FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Sri Thanonchai: The clever trickster

Sri Thanonchai is a clever trickster who appears in ancient Thai folktales and is popular to this today. The first printed version of these stories was published in around 1890.

Sirinya Pakditawan

Sunday 20 May 2018, 03:00PM


Sri Thanonchai is known throughout Thailand but also in other Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In Laos, this character is called Siengmieng (also Chieng Mieng), in Cambodia Thanon-Chai, although his Khmer name is Ah Thonchuy Prach.

In Myanmar, this figure is referred to as Saga Dausa. The Lao tales are similar to the Thai ones whereas the Cambodian versions differ somewhat from the commonly told Thai stories. There are also mural paintings of Sri Thanonchai tales at Wat Phrathum Wanaram in Bangkok, Thailand.

He can be compared to the folkloric German figure of Till Eulenspiegel, who was also reputed to be a great deceiver. Most of the Sri Thanonchai stories are set in central Thailand and this is most likely where the tales of Sri Thanonchai originated from.

According to the tales, Sri Thanonchai was born near Ayutthaya as the son of a peasant. His mother bore him relatively late in her life. As the story goes, it was only after she implored the god Indra that she fell pregnant and bore her first son, Sri Thanonchai.

However, a short while after the trickster’s birth, the mother gave birth to another son and as is so often the case the elder son Sri Thanonchai became very jealous of his younger brother.

Generally though, Sri Thanonchai was very witty, clever and delighted in playing tricks on people, some of which were often quite outrageous.

Nevertheless, he was eventually appointed to the royal court where he before long he began to annoy and vex other courtiers with his incessant tricks and deceptions. Despite these often risky transgression he had an uncanny ability to be able to save his hide from any severe punishment.

Finally, following his return to the house of his parents, it seems his karma finally caught up with him and soon after Sri Thanonchai was said to have died of a broken heart following the loss in a bet against a court official.

QSI International School Phuket

Testifying to his longevity as a folkloric character, there have been several movie versions portraying Sri Thanonchai’s vexing exploits and eventual demise. The most recent version, titled Sri Thanonchai 555+, was released in 2014.

The most famous tale of Sri Thanonchai is one in which the trickster outwits the King. Summing up, the story relates how the trickster persuades the King to go into a pond. Both the Thai and Laos versions of this popular tale are almost identical. Although several Laos version of his other exploits vary quite considerably from the popular Thai versions.

The story of Sri Thanonchai was for centuries passed down through oral storytelling traditions, but were later written down more definitively in verse and prose.

The longevity and continued popularity of the tales of Sri Thanonchai’s exploits highlight the intellectual and creative power involved in the art of telling jokes and their ability to stand the test of time.

Such humorous tales, told in entertaining and insightful ways, often employing a deft understanding of linguistic and psychological nuances of an audience, remind us that people of all cultures revel in the joys of a well told story.

That these tales remain popular to this day goes to show that their universal themes still resonate with people, who continue to identify with the universal themes, characters and situations of these ancient folk tales.

 

Sirinya Pakditawan is half-Thai and holds a PhD from Hamburg University. She enjoys writing about Thai culture, read her blog at: sirinyas-thailand.de

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

 

Phuket community
Storm-struck Jungceylon reopens after all-night repairs

......and still you get wind speed wrong. 35 kms/hr is just over 20 mph. The gusts were approximatel...(Read More)


Police hunt mature-age jealous ex, age 51, for suspected car arson

Dangerous little man with the mentality and brain power of an 8-year old....(Read More)


Storm lashes Phuket

Seems you have made the same mistake as your competitor newspaper. Wind speeds of 16 km/hr?? Don'...(Read More)


Phuket student takes on survey of public transport, tuk-tuk and taxi fares

I applaud this students initiative and PN for their help. 50 responses should not be a problem. So...(Read More)


Thailand leads MICE surge

Did I miss something? What is this self promoting MICE thing? Passing by all the life threatening...(Read More)


Court seizes B21m more from former Pheu Thai MP, B168mn already seized

Well, some more years the tables will be turned. Then the ex junta generals go to face the same. Aft...(Read More)


Concerns over Phuket wild monkeys as they risk entering homes to steal food

It looks like deporting monkeys to these small islands is a artificial creation of quick natural sta...(Read More)


Government incapable of ending graft, says poll

This Junta Government has all the instruments to end grafts as it is strong in power by side-lining ...(Read More)


Rainbow Warrior arrives in Phuket with a clear message

"Greenpeace's unsolicited & un-needed advice?" Unsolicited, sure, the last thing ...(Read More)