The following is a portion of the northern Thai (Yuan) version of the creation of the world, as taken from the Pathamamulamuli, an antique Buddhist palmleaf manuscript. Its translator, Anatole-Roger Peltier, believes that this story is based on an oral tradition which is over five hundred years old.

"When the world was not yet in existence, there were only the cold and the hot. By coming together and by 'feeding each other', these two states of matter gave rise to a wind that blew very strongly and called into existence the earth and water. The moisture released by rocks produced mosses and seaweeds which, in turn, gave rise to grasses, plants and trees. Insects such as fleas and beetles were born from the elements earth, water, fire, then beings endowed with bones and blood. From the element earth a woman called Nang Itthang Gaiya Sangkasi was born. The scent of flowers was her only food. Mixing her sweat with clay, she moulded animals so that they eat the plants that grew in plenty. From the element fire, a man called Pu Sangaiya Sangkasi was born. As he was out for a walk, he met Nang Itthang Gaiya Sangkasi and the two of them became husband and wife. The couple shaped the first three human beings: a man, a woman and a hermaphrodite. . .

". . .the three human beings grew up and had three children. Itthi, the woman, showed great affection for Pullinga, the man, much more so for him than Napumsaka, the hermaphrodite. When he saw that the two beings loved each other tenderly, Napumsaka, the hermaphrodite killed the man. The woman was grief stricken. She laid her husband's body in one place, planted a Jhalatun tree to indicate the place of the cemetery and offered food daily until the corpse had completely decayed. Shortly after that, the hermaphrodite died also. The woman put his body in one place and never came near it again, but went on offering rice to her deceased husband. The three children seeing their mother act this way, asked her: 'O Mother, why do you bring food to Father who died first, and not to Father who died last?'. The mother answered: 'The first was dear to my heart and I loved him very much; as for the second, he was not dear to my heart and I had no affection for him'. Shortly after that, the woman died. The three children gathered the bodies of their three parents, staked out the cemetery and offered food every day without fail.

"After their parents' death, the three children had thirteen offspring: six girls and seven boys. . .afterwards Itthi, the children's mother, reaching the end of her life, died. Pullinga, the husband carried his spouse's body to the cemetery, staked out the site by planting a Thong puang tree and offered food daily. Shortly after, Napumsaka, the hermaphrodite, died in turn. Pullinga placed his [sic] body in some place and cared no more about it. The children then asked their father: 'O Father, to Mother who died first, you offer food daily on her tomb. And for Mother who died last, you don't do anything. Why is it that you don't treat them equally?'. The man answered: 'O my darling children, you mother, the one who died first, was dear to my heart; as for the one who died last, she wasn't'".

 

Source: 'Pathamamulamuli: The Origin of the World in the Lan Na Tradition' (1991) By Anatole-Roger Peltier. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books.

 


 

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