Sawasdee krub (hello) everyone! Feminism is an important aspect of our evolving society towards a more equal society. Today, we have many strong and proud women in Thailand, from actors, business owners and all the way to higher government officials.
As it was recently International Women’s Day. We would like to take you back in time for a small bit of history where certain Thai women stood up for their nation and against social. To name a few are:
- Somdet Phra Sri Suriyothai (สมเด็จพระศรีสุริโยทัย)
Ask any Thai, it is most likely that they would know about the Queen Suriyothai and her bravery in the Siam-Burmese War (1547-1549).
Sri Suriyothai was a queen during the early part of the reign of King Maha Chakkraphat during the 16th century of the Siamese Kingdom (Ayutthaya Era), now Thailand. In 1548, early into King Maha Chakkraphat’s reign, Ayutthaya was struggling as the Burmese King started an invasion on the Siam, hoping to sack the city.
According to the Thai chronicles, despite the King’s disapproval the Queen rode to battle alongside her husband. During the battle, King was in a single elephant to elephant duel with a Burmese Commander, the Viceroy of Prome. The King’s elephant became distressed and began running in the opposite direction. This resulted in the Burmese Commander chasing down the now vulnerable King. In an act of courage, Queen Suriyothai intercepted the battle and engaged their enemy. Tragically, she was no match for the more experienced warrior and was cut down.
It was said that her death was a uniting factor for Siamese army to repel the Burmese, but more importantly setting examples of early feminism and steering away from traditional gender roles.
There is also an epic Thai movie based on Queen Suriyothai’s life during the Ayutthaya Era by the name of The Legend of Suriyothai (2002). You should be able to find a copy of the DVD at any local dvd stores in Thailand.
If you are planning to visit Ayutthaya be sure to visit Queen Suriyothai Memorial. It is located approximately 6 kilometres Northwest of old city of Ayutthaya. The memorial park holds the statue of Suriyothai riding her elephant to war.
We recommend you try out some Thai street food that is available at a great little food market close by.
If you are not sure of what to do in Ayutthaya, please be sure to check out our previous blog for recommendations!
- Thao Thep Kassatri (ท้าวเทพกระษัตรี) and Thao Sri Sunthon (ท้าวศรีสุนทร)
The earliest days of the Rattankosin Era (the establishment of Bangkok as the capital of Siam), Than Phuying Chan and her sister Khun Mook were lady warriors that fought off the Burmese Invasion on the Phuket Province in 1785.
Battle of the Nine Armies was where the sister-duo remarkably displayed their courage and heroism. According to legends, they not only fought off the Burmese army but they also inspired rallied the common villagers joining them in battle. They also planned their attacks, utilizing cannons and having even fooled the enemy into miscalculating the amount of “men” and soldiers their town might have had. This was achieved by getting the women of the town to forged wooden weapons cloaked in tin as well as dressing up as male soldiers to stand guard during the night. This was done repeatedly until the Burmese army ultimately gave up on the invasion and retreated.
Chan and Mook’s bravery were lated honored by King Rama I of the Chakra Dynasty (current dynasty), thus, receiving titles as Thao Thep Kassatri (Chan) and Thao Sri Sunthon (Mook).
If you have sometime in Phuket, be sure to make a visit to their monument, located on the main highway (402) between Phuket town and the airport.
These women’s actions are truly inspiring as they lived in the time where women were arguably more heavily affected by chauvinism, traditional gender roles and inequality.
Although everyday should be of equity in gender and human rights, it is important to have a day like International Women’s Day to remind us. To look back on those who have inspired us to stand up for what we believe in.
From all of us at Chao Hostel.
Photo Credit: tnews.co.th