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To Arms, Part 3

Last month's issue featured a selection of Chopping and Thrusting Blades, as well as Throwing Javelins. Visitors can see those weapons at Chiangmai National Museum and the Wichaiprasit Fort in Bangkok. This month, we feature some of the ancient aerial devices of weaponry those which were either sent aloft or came down from above on top of aggressor's heads which are mentioned in Siamese records.

Since those ancient times, Thailand has kept apace with modern aerial weaponry not only as part of the national defense forces, but also as a commitment to foreign allies. Visitors to Chiangmai will often see fighter/bomber aircraft flying over the city. These are from the Royal Thai Airforce, Wing 41, which is based at Chaingmai airport. But don't worry, any Airforce flights we see or hear overhead are either routine flying missions or training practices.

Today, more of Thailand's modern warfare ability is indicated by the Royal Thai Navy's HTMS Chakri Naruebet. When not on patrol, it is based at Chonburi. This aircraft carrier of the "Harrier Jump Jet" type was built in 1997, and was designed as a seagoing platform for VTOL (Vertical Takeoff/Landing) aircraft. In addition to the six VTOL aircraft it carries, there are six Sikorsky Seahawk helicopters and batteries for the formidable Seasparrow SAM missiles.

Of course, such refinements were not available to our Thai ancestors. Instead, they used:

Shooting Weapons

ThanooThanoo, Gowthun, Gothun,Guthun: Our ancestors used these straight bows made of bamboo. Thanoo was strung with the same strips of material and shot only arrows, which often indicated the type of Thanoo bow being used. Thanoo Ya was a bow and arrow with poison resin on its head while Thanoo Fai shot a flaming arrow. A bow of high capacity showed that its arrow could soar about 100 steps away. Gowthun or Gothun, fired both arrows and bullets. These bows were drawn to the notch by the united exertions of feet and arms, and seemed to be more sophisticated and prettier than Thanoo.

Nah MhaiNah Mhai (cross bow): This medieval weapon consisted of a bow set traversely on a wooded stock, which was grooved to direct an arrow or stone. An Arrow could be applied with either poison or fire.

BorgfaiBorgfai: This simple rocket was used more to inflict terror than as an accurate shot. It would cascade fire and sparks as it roared across a battlefield, causing horses and elephants to scatter in alarm.

GohngGohng: The ancient version of this bow was similar to the Thanoo or Nah Mai, but used rattan or elastic materials to connect the two ends of the cross bow. The elastic property was used like a giant sling shot to propel dry clay bullets against far away enemies.

Wow MohdinWow Mohdin: This kite (either box or triangular) floated a fire filled pot across enemy lines. The idea was to crash the kite, or drop the pot, into an enemy camp causing fire and panic.


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