Thailand has designated a mythical creature as its national symbol to promote the nation’s history, culture and creative economy.
On Tuesday, government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek announced that the mythical naga serpent will be used as a symbol of Thai culture following the Cabinet’s approval of the National Culture Commission’s proposal.
Nagas, which have been present in Thai culture, traditions and rituals since ancient times, hail from Indian mythology and often represent water and abundance. The mythical creatures are believed to be protectors of Buddhism, and are often placed on staircase rails that lead to sacred Buddhist establishments.
In Thailand, the story of the mythical serpent is told in various cultural forms from architecture to festivals, including the Illuminated Boat Procession and the Naga Fireball Festival.
“The naga is a symbol of Thai culture due to its close relationship with Thai people’s beliefs,” Ratchada said. “This symbolic announcement can boost the country’s soft power and be used in dramas and film productions to benefit the economy.”
According to Ratchada, the Cabinet has chosen the mythical naga serpent as its national symbol because they want to encourage residents to learn more about the nation’s history and culture. The Cabinet also wishes to inspire citizens to create unique products that will boost Thailand’s soft power and creative economy.
Thais reportedly believe that there are four royal families of nagas: golden Virupakkhas, green Erapatha, rainbow-color Chabbyaputtas and black Kanhagotamakas. The National Culture Committee worked with the Fine Arts Department to design a prototype of the national naga symbol. Their drawing includes the largest naga based on Thai folklore.
According to the Ministry of Culture, there are 157 countries across the world that have announced 229 mythical creatures as their national animals. There are also nations with two creatures, such as China with their dragon and panda or Indonesia with their Garuda and Komodo dragon.