June 20, 2015
Have you ever wondered why you see so many statues of roosters in Thailand?
Their prevalence stems not from the cock fighting events, that occur across the Kingdom, but from folklore surrounding a legendary cock fight, in King Naresuan early life. The popular story goes something like this. After Siam’s capital Ayutthaya fell to a Burmese army in 1568-69, the young prince Naresuan was taken as hostage to the Burmese capital Hongsawadi (Pegu), while his father was appointed to rule Ayutthaya as a Burmese vassal.
Growing up in Burma
In the Burmese court, Naresuan grew up with the Burmese Crown Prince. (He was later to kill the same prince in what is said is Thailand’s most famous dual). It was during his time at the court, that Prince Naresuan own cockerel beat the Burmese champion in a cock fight, instead of accepting a material reward for winning, he requested freedom for Siam. The frustrated Burmese prince called the Thai rooster a ‘war slave animal.’ This humiliation made the Siamese prince, realize more deeply than ever before, that he himself and the Siamese people were subordinate to the Burmese. Consequently, he became determined to escape this fate.
Some years later on returning to his own country and after ascending the Ayutthaya throne, Naresuan declared his country’s independence. The Burmese army sent to Ayutthaya in 1592 to bring the vassal back under its control, was under the command of Naresuan former friend, the Burmese Crown Prince.
Naresuan lead his army to the west to meet the invaders at Nong Sarai, present day Don Chedi. During the ensuing battle, Naresuan and the Crown Prince fought each other on the back of war elephants, the latter was cut in half from the shoulder to the waist in one blow.
After the famous victory at Nong Sarai, the now King Naresuan expanded Siam’s territory greatly. More than once he led his troops into the heartland of Burma and Cambodia. Ayutthaya flourished and stayed independent for over 150 years, until the Burmese sacked the city in April 1767.
So if you see statues of Rosters any where in the Kingdom of Thailand, you will know they are there as a reminder of the day when a former prisoner and prince decided that he would change history and free his people from servitude.
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