November 3, 2022
BANGKOK – Deputy government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek said the move had been proposed by The National Culture Committee, which had earlier tasked the Fine Arts Department with drawing a prototype picture of the Naga, a half-human, half-serpentine being, based on folklore to be used as a mythological national animal.
According to the National Culture Committee, Thais believe there are four royal families of Nagas, namely Virupakkhas (golden Nagas), Erapatha (green Nagas), Chabbyaputtas (rainbow-colour Nagas), and Kanhagotamakas (black Nagas). The department’s drawing includes the largest Naga in Thai folklore called Vasuki, who had close relationships with Buddhism and ancient kings.
Ratchada said Nagas have been present in Thai culture, traditions and rituals since ancient times, such as the popular Naga fireball festival and “Lai Reua Fai”, or illuminated boat procession to mark the end of Buddhist lent.
Nagas are often depicted as symbols of water and abundance. They are also believed to be protectors of Buddhism and are often used to decorate staircase rails leading to sacred Buddhist establishments, which feature Buddha’s footprints or relics.
Ratchada added that based on data from the Culture Ministry, there are 157 countries which have announced 229 animals as national mythological creatures, with some nations having more than one mythological animal.
A country can have both a national and a mythological national animal, such as China which has a panda and a dragon, Indonesia a komodo dragon and a garuda, Greece a dolphin and a phoenix. As for Thailand, elephants have been the kingdom’s national animal following a declaration by the Office of the Prime Minister dated October 26, 2001.