Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Excerpt from novel Black Prince of Siam, by Kyi May Kaung



They were broken in with iron chun probes shaped like eagles’ talons, set on a wood handles like hatchets, and only occasional kind treatment, perhaps to inure them to the hard work carrying logs on their trunks, or dragging them, or to elevate their pain threshold in war. 
Their war training was very specialized, but even at the age of seven or eight, in the elephant kraal in Phitsanulok, Narasuan had insisted that the chun be used sparingly. 
He was convinced from all he had seen and heard that elephants had long memories.
He himself marked his Enemies as well as his Friends for Life.
He did not see how an Elephant could do otherwise.
He always told the mahouts, “Your elephants are difficult to find, expensive to feed and take years to train.  You don’t want an elephant to mark you and then seize the opportune moment in the heat of battle, to turn against you.  They are living beings just like you and me, remember that.”
When he was king, he ordered that the Burmese prisoner of war mahout Nga Xo who had killed his elephant because he said, it had panicked and was in musth, by severing its spinal cord with a knife during the Battle of Ayuthia in 1593, be executed by an elephant trampling on him.
He considered it an act of Sabotage, killing his expensive war animal like that.
In the way used in the courts of the Indian rajas, the man was first encircled by the trunk of a specially trained execution elephant and then squashed with one giant foot.[i]  It was no more difficult than stepping on a water melon.
From then on Narasuan forbade mahouts from carrying these daggers on pain of death.
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[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_elephant
3-22-2016

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