HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Elephants – A special exhibition in the Chiang Mai National Museum

Cat show 2005: Thailand’s top models

New Schools for Life

PREM Graduation 2005

Elephants – A special exhibition in the Chiang Mai National Museum

Reinhard Hohler

Since 1973, the Chiang Mai National Museum has been the center of education and preservation of art in Chiang Mai and the northern part of Thailand, comprising the old Lan Na Thai Kingdom. Since the 700 years celebrations of the founding of Chiang Mai City in 1996, the Chiang Mai Museum has been under constant renovation and the permanent exhibitions have been revised with new displays and accurate information.

Mother and baby enjoying themselves at a local elephant park.

Nevertheless, there was a welcome opportunity to visit the museum during May this year, because there was a special exhibition about “elephants” – holy animals, dear to the heart of every Thai and the Thai nation. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn regards elephants with such affection that when she was young a white baby elephant from Yala Province became her favorite companion during her stay in the Hua Hin Royal Palace.

It is believed that the word “elephant” comes from the ancient Sanskrit name of the mythical elephant “Airavata” – the vehicle of the Indian king of the gods Indra. In Chinese the elephant is called “xiang” and corresponds to the Thai word “chang”.

In general, there are two main kinds of elephants. Loxodanta africana, the African elephant, and Elephas maximus, the Asian elephant found in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. While the African elephant never became tame and trainable, the Asian elephant was tamed and trained by humans for a long time going back in history. Interesting to note is that elephants can swim for six hours without a break and need sleep at night for only 3-4 hours. Also, a full-grown elephant needs 200 kilograms of vegetarian food and 200 liters of water per day.

Time for a shower.

In Hindu myth, there is the belief that eight male elephants are the vehicles of the guardian deities, who preside over the eight directions of the compass to guard the world. In the east, we have Indra who rides on the three-headed elephant “Airavata”. Actually, this elephant has 33 heads, but in art there are only three heads shown. In the Buddhist context, it is said that Queen Maya saw an elephant in her dream before receiving the child to become the Buddha.

In Buddha’s life, there are three other elephants, which are shown on temple paintings:

The first one was the vehicle of Mara, the Buddhist devil, who tried to destroy the Buddha. The second one is an elephant, which served Buddha in a forest retreat together with a monkey. And the third one is a fierce elephant, which Buddha tamed with his loving kindness and released by his jealous relative.

According to the “jataka” or Buddhist birth stories, the Buddha was born as elephant in several births.

Above all is the belief that a white elephant is regarded as an auspicious animal for a righteous king on earth. Traditionally, the great king who can rule the earth will possess seven auspicious symbols to show his sovereign power and charisma. The white elephant is one of them. It is also believed that the king who possesses a number of white elephants would become king of the kings. Thus, the tradition of searching for a white elephant to present to the ruling king has occurred up to the present time.

What happens when a royal elephant becomes sick? Then we have “tham khwan chang” literally to recall the wandering souls of the sick elephant to restore his health. The ritual must be conducted by a special Brahmin called Phra Mo Thao, who places auspicious flowers, a pig’s head, fragrant face powder and oils, candles, lotus leaves and other auspicious tree leaves on a banana leaf-tray. Sounds complicated, but music is also part of the animistic ceremony.

There is an old Thai proverb, “the white elephant was born in the forest” meaning that the holy man cannot be found in the city, but can be found in the remote forest only. This seems true even today.

Cat show 2005: Thailand’s top models

Linda L. Galloway, PhD, FGA, DGA

The most beautiful cats from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Japan appeared at the 5th Thailand CFA Cat Show on May 22, held at The Mall Bangkapi. Well-coifed Persians and their shorthair, plush-coated relatives, the Exotics, dominated the Longhair Division with Himalayans, Norwegian Forest Cats, Maine Coons, and American Curls, while elegant, svelte Javanese and their Oriental Longhair relatives waived their fluffed up tails among Abyssinians, American and British Shorthairs, Scottish Folds and Korats in the Shorthair Division. Beloved Household Pets were also proudly presented in all sizes, shapes and colors.

A male Javanese, with his characteristic fluffy tail.

Internationally judged by Mrs. Cheryle Uren (Australia) and Mrs. Yaeko Takano (Japan), tensions mounted as the judges selected the top ten cats in Kitten, Championship, Premiership, and Household Pet Classes. Two of the owners of these fancy felines, Linda Galloway and Patty Chan, live here in Chiang Mai.

Linda breeds the rare Javanese (lynx-point Balinese) and Oriental Longhairs, the longhair relatives of the Siamese, while Patty and her husband Leo breed the popular Exotics, the shorthair relatives of the Persian. Both are “hobby breeders” who are passionate about their endeavors, and seek quality not quantity offspring. They hold the responsibility for maintaining their breeds and improving them to specified standards with each carefully planned mating, even applying computer programs to keep in-breeding and health problems out of the lines.

Were Patty, Leo and Linda happy with the show? The number of wins their cats received give the answer! Patty’s Exotics received a 9th Best Kitten award, also 3rd, 6th, and 8th Best Cat awards, 2nd Best Premier, Best and 2nd Best of Breed and many Winners Ribbons towards Championship status. Linda’s Javanese kittens took 4th, 6th and 8th Best Kitten awards, whereas the adults took Best and 2nd Best of Breed, 2nd Best Champion, and Winners Ribbons towards Championship status. The Oriental Longhair took 7th Best Cat, 2nd Best Champion Overall, and Best Shorthair Champion.

For further information on these breeds and other breeds of cats as well, contact Linda by email at: [email protected] For website information on the Javanese and Oriental Longhairs, see www.sacchidananda.web. com; for Exotics, see www.

New Schools for Life

Prof. Juergen Zimmer

Around 30 children from the region of Baan Nam Khem, affected by the tsunami, visited the children in the first School for Life near Chiangmai, during March and April 2005. They lived together for six weeks and had a summer camp together. Students took part in art activities such as singing, dancing, painting and on stage performances depending on their interests, talents and skills. The activities used therapeutic healing methods to relieve various traumas the students may have experienced. In addition, the students gained self-confidence and improved their skills, while building bridges between cross-regional cultures of north and south Thailand.

On behalf of the School for Life Chiang Mai, Prof Zimmer (right) receives a donation of 450 euros, presented by Hans Mandewirth, AWO Mannheim (Germany).

These children lack some ordinary things, which children normally get easily. These children still have dreams and don’t want to be illiterate in our society. They need a school, where they can learn new experiences based on their own interests, talents and skills. They need a school that addresses their needs as students as well as their need of stability and support from a loving home environment that will protect them from and prepare them for their future part in our big world. That promise is coming as in the province of Phang Nga there will be two Schools for Life in the future, one in Baan Na Nai and another one in Baan Kapong.

The School for Life in Chiangmai can be contacted by phone, 0 1671 3477, or by email [email protected]

Prof. Juergen Zimmer is president of the International Academy for Innovative Education, Psychology and Economics (INA) at the Free University of Berlin Germany.

PREM Graduation 2005

A day of celebration with our most distinguished guest

David Michaels

The Prem Tinsulanonda International School has just held its Graduation Ceremony and celebrated the academic journeys of twenty-four proud students. These students, representing sixteen different nations, represents the second class to graduate from the school.

Vivien Dapp, recipient of the Daniel Wilms Memorial Award, receives her diploma from HE Prem on Graduation Day.

The day began with the arrival of His Excellency Prem Tinsulanonda, a former Thai Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and also the school’s namesake. As students and staff lined the walkway at the entrance of the school, His Excellency greeted many of them along with the Chairman of the Board of Governors, ML Tridosyuth Devakul.

HE Prem Tinsulanonda receives warm welcomes from students as he engages them in conversation.

The graduation ceremony itself was more than just simply a receipt of diplomas. There were several student and staff speakers, as well as an oration by H.E. Prem, who extolled the virtues of an international education. Students and staff also joined together for several musical performances, which included a cappella songs, renditions by the school choir, and also a performance by members of the Class of 2005 of Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” with the guitar, violin, and vocals.

Julika, Alissa, and Natalie share in the excitement of Graduation Day.

As the ceremony was a time to appreciate achievement, five graduating students were recognized for their accomplishments over the course of their education at Prem. The following awards were presented by General Prem and Mom Tri: Academic Award to Lenka Randusova, Sports Award to Melanie Forbes-Harper, Arts Award to Miew Mingtom, Service Award to Hien Litdang, and the Daniel Wilms Memorial Award to Vivien Dapp.

Last words of wisdom given by president of the Prem Center, Lister Hannah, to the leaving students and their parents.

Following the symbolic gesture of the new graduates passing a lighted candle to the current Grade Eleven students, the former marched out of the Prem auditorium with flowers in hand, only to be engulfed by the waiting arms of family and friends.

Prem student Tong is showered with flowers at the conclusion of his graduation ceremony.

Later that evening, the celebration continued in style at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort’s Grand Ballroom. The graduates danced with their teachers and family and said goodbye to this stage in their lives. As a final farewell, the students, in small groups, released floating lanterns into the air as they counted down and collectively exclaimed, “Goodbye Prem!”

For these young men and women, their education will surely continue. For those remaining here at Prem, we will celebrate in one year’s time as the flame is passed on yet again.

All students with chairman of the board of governors ML Tridosyuth Devakul and HE Prem Tinsulanonda on stage.