THAILAND

MUANG THAI

Part 2

Arms and Emblems

 

The Royal Arms

The Royal Emblem

The National Achievements

The National Emblem

The National Assembly

The Prime Minister

ARMED FORCES

 

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The Royal Arms

 

The royal arms consists of the arms of the House of Chakri crested with the arms of Vishnu symbolizing armed authority, thus making ‘The Armed Authority of the House of Chakri’ personified in the King of Siam/Thailand. Therefore it symbolizes the (today nominal) supreme command of the king. In siamese heraldry the emblem was introduced by Rama V and his cousin Pravi Jumsai. An early version is on the Royal Palace in Bangkok:

 

 

The Royal Emblem

 

As the royal arms symbolize the office of a supreme commander of the king, the royal emblem is an individual emblem and is unique for each ruler, designed according to the taste of the king.[1]

 

 

 

 

Rama IV

The crown Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut between two fivefolded umbrellas. This emblem was also on the royal standard 1855-‘92

Rama V

The crown Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut on two ritual goblets and between two fivefolded umbrellas

 

.

 

 

Rama VI

A vajra or thunderbolt issuant from two ritual goblets, standing on a table and between two fivefolded umbrellas

Rama VII

A rack with three arrows crested with the crowned royal arms and between two standards.

 

 

Rama VIII

Lord Indra sitting on a lotus between two fivefolded umbrellas.

Rama IX

The arms of the House of Chakri radiant, charged with the Om-symbol and supported by a sevenfolded umbrella.

 

The jubilea of King Rama IX, occurring each decennium of his life, are celebrated by special achievements displaying his royal emblem or his royal cypher, augmented by different other emblems.

 

 

Jubilee-achievements for the 60th and 80th birthday of King Rama IX Bhumibol Adulej.

 

The National Achievements

 

An achievement for Siam was introduced in the beginning of the 19th century. The first achievement consisted of a shield charged with an elephant and a chakram, as we have seen, surrounded by a garland, all of European style.

A second achievement dates from the reign of King Rama III Chetsadabodin and was probably used until the reign of Rama V.

It was:

Photo H.d.V. 1980

Achievement on the fence around a park in Bangkok

 

Arms: Azure, Erawan standing on a platform, proper.

Crest: The crowned regalia between two five-folded umbrellas [proper]

Supporters: The lion Rajasiha on the dexter and the elephant-lion Gajasiha on the sinister [proper]

 

This achievement was also on the seal of the government of Siam:

 

Seal of Siam with the achievement of Siam within a strap [2]

On a Puukpi (poll tax) document relating to a Chinese who was under the protection of the Dutch consulate, 1833.

 

The Achievement of 1873

 

In 1873 King Chulalongkorn ordered his cousin H.H. Prince Pravij Jumsai, to create a new augmented achievement. The achievement was:

 

 

National Achievement of Siam, modern rendering. [3]

 

Arms: Tierced per pall: 1. Or, Erawan proper, capped Gules and Or standing on a platform proper, for the North; 2. Gules, an elephant Argent, capped and attired Or, for the South; 3. Tenné, a kris sheathed and a kris unsheathed in saltire, Or and Argent, for the Malay peninisula.

Crest: A flaming chakram, charged with a trisula and crowned with the Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut topped by the diamond Phra Maha Wichian Mani radiant.

Orders: The collars and star of the Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems and of the Most Illustrious Family Order

Supporters: Dexter: Gajasiha proper for Kalahom; Sinister: Rajasiha proper for Mahatthai each holding a sevenfolded umbrella, standing on a compartment Azure, bearing the royal slippers Or.

Motto: Sabbesam sanghabhūtāna sāmaggī vuddhi sādhikā (Unity brings happiness) in Pali language in Thai script on a ribbon Gules with bordures Vert.

Mantle: The cloak of the Order of Chula Chom Klao, tied with pink* ribbons to two golden swords and the wan wit chani royal flywhisk and fan in saltire.

 

* Pink is the colour of Tuesday, the day of king Chulalongkorn’s birth.

 

After having been abandoned in 1910, the larger achievement was restored in the time of the Luang Phibunsongkhram and Sarit Dhanarajata military regimes (1948-’63) for use by the army and the police. It featured also on coins struck 1950-’57.

1 Baht, 1957

 

The Lesser Achievement

 

Of the achievement there are a lesser or medial version and a smaller version:

The lesser achievement shows the arms, the crest, the Auspicious Order of the Nine Gems, the supporters with the umbrellas and the swords in saltire, all on the platform.

 

The Smaller Achievement

 

¼ Baht, 1876

 

Royal Standard 1895-1910

 

The smaller achievement consists of the arms, crest and umbrellas on the platform only. This version was on the royal standard.

 

The achievements are inspired by the three catagories of European national achievements symbolizing an absolutist monarchy.

These achievements comprised terms for the empire, the ruler and the state, all united within one single composition. In this case, the empire is symbolized by the shield with the emblems of the three territories.

The ruler is symbolized by his crowned royal emblem.

The state is symbolized by the emblems of the main officials of the empire

The legitimacy of the royal house is symbolized by the regalia

The cohesion of the empire is symbolized by the cloak of the Order of the Royal Family, as the Royal familiy is the most important political power of the country.

The umbrellas symbolize the political status of a kingdom of the country.

 

Such all-embracing national emblems were of mainly German fashion. The idea was also adopted in 19th century Russia and in Japan which, after the Meiji Revolution, adopted such an emblem in 1870. 

As these national emblems were symbols of autocratic and absolutist regimes, they ware usually abandoned when the political organisation of the country changed.

 

The National Emblem

 

Probably soon after the creation a government of ministries in 1892 the need for new symbols for the king and the government was felt. For the occasion  Rama V ordered his brother H.H. Prince Naris to make new emblems to replace the ancient national achievements. At first, Naris designed an emblem featuring Garuda, Naga and Vishnu inside a circle. This design combined the image of the king, being an incarnation of Vishnu, riding Garuda, and Naga, the companion and guard of Vishnu.

 

This emblem was only used for a short while before the king suggested Naris to remove the image of Naga. This resulted in a seal showing Vishnu riding Garuda and in fact symbolizing the Royal Government.

1st design

2nd design

 

Apparently this design was also dismissed and an other seal was preferred showing Garuda only. [4]

This new emblem, to be qualified the emblem of state, consisted of Garuda, in hindu symbolism the vehicle of Vishnu and, as the siamese king considered himself to be an incarnation of Vishnu, the vehicle of the King of Siam. It illustrates the doctrine that the government actually is a tool of the ruler, in this case the King of Siam.

Early pictures of the new emblem date from the time of Rama V himself.

 

Such a seal of state was used with the name of the office as a legend, as on the seal of the beginning of the 19th century with the national achievement. An early print of such a seal is from the Siamese Consulate in Amsterdam dated about 1900. [5]

 

In 1910 king Vajiravudh abandoned the National Achievements of 1873 altogether and ordered Phra Dhevabhinimit to create a new one. This featured the Garuda of Chulalongkorn.

 

On the national seal it was encircled to create an outer rim, which contained the royal ceremonial name. Upon the coronation of a new king, the seal is changed to correspond with his name. Garuda is on public buildings and on official papers and is also used by public services like embassies and consulates. It is also on the royal standard, qualifying the King the head of state.

 

Royal Standard, 1910-present.

 

Seal of Siam, 3rd design.

From the time of King Vajiravudh

Shield of the Royal Thai Embassy London

 

On coins Garuda appeared after WWII, replacing Erawan and an elephant on earlier coins.

 

50 satang, 1946.

 

In practice, however, no distinction is made between the royal emblem and the emblem of state, all governmental institutions being ‘Royal’. [6]

 

Therefore it is not used by the present national assembly and the prime minister, established 1932, as these are not ‘Royal’.

 

National Assembly

 

 

The National Assembly was established in 1932 after the adoption of Siam's first Constitution, which transformed Siam from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy.

The emblem of the National Assembly shows two ritual goblets covered with a book and a rising sun.

 

Prime Minister

 

 

The post of Prime Minister has existed since 1932. At first, the office was called the President of the People’s Committee, it was later changed to Prime Minister of Siam when the King deemed it too communistic.

Constitutionally the Prime Minister is required to be a member of the lower house of Parliament or the House of Representatives. He must also gain their approval through a resolution before an official appointment by the King can take place.

The seal of the Prime Minister shows the emblem of the National Assembly standing on a table, supported by Rajasiha and Gajasiha standing on a platform.

 

On the flag of the prime minister, which is white, the seal is red and crowned with the royal crown.

Emblem of the National Intelligence Agency

A department of the Office of the Prime Minister  since 1953.

 

The emblem of the NIA shows a four pointed flaming star and two thunderbolts in saltire charged with the seal of the prime minister within a circle of rays.

 

Ministries

 

 

 

Ministry of Agriculture

Ministry of Defense

 

Ministry of Economics

Ministry of Education

 

 

Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Ministry of Interior

Ministry of Justice

 

Armed Forces

 

 

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© Hubert de Vries 2012-03-15

 



[1] Finestone, Jeffrey: The Royal Family of Thailand. The descendants of  King Chulalongkorn. Bangkok, 1989.

[2] Brummelhuis, Han ten: Merchant, Courtier and Diplomat: A History of the Contacts between the Netherlands and Thailand. Lochem-Gent, 1987. P. 70. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague.

[3] The rendering comes form: Coat of Arms of Siam (1873-1910).svg, created by User: Sodacan.

[4] Partly based on the site National Emblem (of Thailand) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emblem_of_Thailand), which, however tells a slightly different story.

[5]  Brummelhuis, op. cit. 1987. P. 86.

[6] Compare socio-political symbolism in the United Kingdom: The Royal arms are supported by a lion and a unicorn making the achievement of  His Majesty’s Government. This is displayed in the House of Commons to demonstrate the relationship between the House and the King. The House itself however is not ‘His Majesty’s parliamant’ but a representative of the people.