Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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This paper examines the underlying meanings of salahoen, flying betel nut, and kaikaeo, the beautiful wild rooster, in "Lilit Phra Lo" or "The Tale of King Lo". "Salahoen" and "kaikaeo" are usually considered magical items sent by Pu Chao Saming Phrai, the Green Mountain Guardian, to aid Princess Phuean and Princess Phaeng in fulfilling their desire of acquiring King Lo's love. By using an anthropological approach, this study suggests that the "salahoen" might be an ordinary betel nut. It is a symbol of the princesses' love for King Lo, their invitation and gestures of warm welcome. As soon as King Lo receives these messages from the two princesses, whom he also desires romantically, he decides without any hesitation to leave his city to pursue his love. The custom of sending a betel nut as a symbol of love, invitation, and warm welcome as found in this tale is practiced among Tai people including Thais and various other peoples in Southeast Asian countries. In a similar vein, this study also claims that the "kaikaeo" may be interpreted as an ordinary wild rooster whose significance lies in its roles in King Lo's life and destiny. As this paper reveals, King Lo wants to have the "kaikaeo" to relieve his anxiety and despair after receiving a bad prediction from the guardian of the Kalong River. The belief that a fowl may be used to take away one's misfortune and to foretell human fate exists in Thai and other Tai societies. Having unveiled the significance of the flying betel nut and the beautiful wild rooster in "the Tale of King Lo" from a cultural/anthropological perspective, this study then demonstrates that King Lo is fully aware of his actions-a factor that enables him to be a great tragic hero.

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