|WAR ELEPHANTS MONUMENT
|There are four large bronze monuments that feature Burmese war elephants in full
battle gear with armed mahouts beside them. They are oriented toward each cardinal
direction. The monuments are all cast to actual size.
These monuments were originally located at Thung Makham Yong battlefield as a
component of Queen Suriyothai Monument.
They were molded after the Second World War by esteemed artist, Khun Khaimuk
Chuto (also written as Khaimuk or Khaimook Chouto, Chudoo or Xuto), who was the
first female sculpture in the country. The four monuments resided at Phaniat elephant
kraal until they were moved to this current location.
The monuments are located north of the main island, adjacent to the park in front of
Phaniat Palace. They are easily viewable from the road.
|Text by Ken May - April 2009
|War elephants were controlled by a mahout sitting in the neck of the elephant. A
center guard in the back looked into its defense. The elephant was equipped with a war
howdah, where in the warrior - a noble - took place and fought. The elephant was
surrounded by a quadruped guard (high ranked nobles in case of the king), which took
position near one of the legs of the elephant. This classic combat position can be seen
here at the War Elephant Monument. Additionally the war elephant was hemmed in on
all sides by lines of elephant guards.
"The bull elephant Phukhao Thong was ordered to be brought and registered
under the name Caophaya Chaiyanuphap. He stood six sok, one khuep and two
niu tall, was anointed with oil front and rear, and was outfitted with elephant
ornaments, a war howdah and a great white umbrella as the royal elephant for
King Naresuan. Prince Ram Rakhop was his center guard, Nai Mahanuphap was
his mahout, and surrounding at the corners of the quadruped were Phra Maha
Montri at the right front foot, Phra Maha Thep at the left front foot, Luang
Inthorathep at the right rear foot and Luang Phirenthorathep at the left rear
War elephants were especially trained for combat and their main objective in a fight was
to destabilize the adversary elephant, by going with its tusks and shoulder underneath,
creating a better combat position for its warrior-rider to confront his opponent in battle.
The four sculptures Chuto created, are looking similar, but they are not. There are slight
differences, which a good observer can discern. The sculptor and clay modeler
Khaimuk Chuto (b.1938) died in 1996.
In the same context, Simon de La Loubère, visiting Siam at the end of the 17th century
wrote about the people taking care of elephants, the following:
“And then a servant or commonly he that takes care of feeding the elephants,
gets upon his neck and guides him; and sometimes there is also another man
seated on the crupper. The Siamese do call him that is placed on the crupper
Houa-Sip, or the Chief of Ten, because that they suppose out of pride, that an
elephant has a great number of men to serve him, and that there are ten under the
command of the Hua-Sip. Him that sits upon the elephants neck they call Nai
Tchang, or Captain of the Elephant, and he commands over all those that are
appointed for the service of the elephant.” 
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 128 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
 A New Historical relation of the Kingdom of Siam by Monsieur de La Loubere -
John Villiers (1986) - page 40.
|Photographs & text by Tricky Vandenberg
Updated October 2010