Manusya, Journal of Humanities

Publication Date



The tradition of a single combat on elephant back first emerged in Thai history in the 13th century during the Sukhothai period. Before that time, there was no evidence that this tradition was practiced by mainland Southeast Asian rulers. The origin of the elephant duel is still unknown but there is historical interpretation that the Thais and other mainland Southeast Asian warriors had adopted this practice from Sri Lanka. The fight on elephant back is a kind of military ritual observed by pre-modern monarchs of mainland Southeast Asia. With the arrival of modern weapons, particularly fire-arms such as muskets and cannons, the tradition was brought to its end. This is due to the fact that the fighter riding on the back of a huge creature had become a clear target of the opposition gunners. Many of them had been murdered before the engagement. The tradition was terminated in late 16th century. The fight between King Naresuan of Ayudhya and the Crown prince of Pegu had marked the end of this fatal ritual after being practiced without interruption for over three centuries.

First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.