bellW300xD140xH350mm, Thailand

There is a long history for domesticated elephant in Thailand; with the strength the elephants can offer, they are captured from the wild and trained (a bit like the domestication of horses and dogs).  The white elephants were offered to the King and worshiped, some were trained to be fighting elephants, as the one used by Queen Suriyothai’s carrier in the war with the Burmese in 1548AD.  Others were trained to be laborers for the forestry, pulling logs from the mountain down to the river.  To track the elephants, bells were put around their neck so they can be heard in the forest.

Here is a Thai folk tale about a boy and an elephant bell.

Once upon at time, there is a poor boy despite of his lack of education he was taught the virtue of respect.  One day the boy was lost in the forest,  he wandered fearfully and came face to came with a full grown elephant.  The huge elephant was strolling peacefully munching banana and other fruits.  Judging by the size of the elephant, the boy thought the elephant must be thousands of years old and must be respected, he kneeled and bowed giving his respect to the animal.  Touched by the act the elephant helped him to find his way home, then the elephant said to the little boy, “Here is a bell given to me by the King of the Elephants, ring it if you are in trouble and the other elephants will come to help you.”  Then one day, the boy and his father were in the forests collecting wood for the fire.  Lighting strike and they became stuck by a fallen tree.  The boy remembered the elephant’s word and rang the bell, soon a herd of elephants came and lift the fallen tree and relieved them.  At the same time, the wild elephant who gave him the bell was captured and being trained as a fighting elephant.  Unsuited to his general temperment, the elephant snapped, killed his mahout trainer and destroyed the village.  The news reached the King and the troops were sent to kill the elephant, when the boy heard the news he volunteer to go to tamed the elephant in exchange for him to be free.  As he entered the village, the elephant charged for an attack.  The boy generally kneel and bowed as he did before, as he rang the bell, the elephant remembered him and came close to him.  The elephant calmed down and followed him to meet with the King who kept his word and the elephant was free.

What we need today is respect for these animals.

Three beautiful films by Gregory Colbert.