now surrounds its high seat is dim, and the image always looks mysterious.
The white elephant of Siam, the national symbol, the device of the nationa s flag, the creature of legend, the emblem of an order of chivalry, the animal whose possession is the sign of kingship, the beast which, if there are enough of him in the palace, can confer upon His Majesty of Siam the title most popular in his dominionsa a Lord of White Elephants a a does he really exist or is he a romance ? Seek out his stable, his very ordinary stall, in the palace precincts, and you shall see him, a tuskless male, 22 years old, an elephant whose skin has not that bluish-slate tinge of other elephants, with whitish eyes, whitish nails to his feet, white fringes to his ears, white at the base of the trunk, and all his general colour with an undertone in white, in short, an elephant distinctively white, the white elephant of Siam*. Shackleda for his temper is royally irritablea and in constant movement, thereby betraying for all his whiteness the never-still habit of his kinsfolk, the common elephants, he stands on a low platform of heavy teak timbers, fixes you with his little white eye, and, yes, he bends his knee and dips that great body. He is the Royal White Elephant of Siam, and he has bowed to you. Never again, nor anywhere in the world will you receive for the first time this salutation. It is curious, and it is sad, to hear that some Siamese think that the semi-veneration in which this strange creature is held renders their nation ridiculous amongst nations that reck not of white elephants at all, and of symbols very little. But they are wrong. The white elephant can point to wolves of to-day at Romea s Capitol, to lions of yesterday in Englanda s Tower of London, and plead, we will hope not in vain, that he still holds the confidence of his people and the interest of the stranger.
The Throne Hall.
This may be called the finest European building east of Constantinople. The long, broad, and beautiful avenue called the Raja Damnoen
Photo. Siamese State Railways.
Raja Damnoen Avenue, Bangkok.
leads up to it and gardens surround it. In the avenue is the equestrian statue of the late King Chulalongkorn. The building, of enormous weight in stone and marble, floats now on caissons of cement, for it was too heavy for the deep alluvial of Bangkoka s plain. From its lantern the best view of Bangkok may be seen. The throne, under a nine-tier umbrella, is in the centre of the building, and in front of it stands a device in mother-of-pearl, setting forth the ancient Sanskrit protective sign, the sign from the forehead of Buddha. The Buddha himself, in what seems to be a massive gold image but is really a picture, is throned high up at the end of the Throne Hall, and dominates all the building. The pictured scene beneath him represents the fourth Kinga King Mongkut, or Rama IV as he is now to be designateda announcing toleration of all religions. The other five scenes in the hall represent the first King of the present dynasty returning from a successful military expedition to Cambodia and assuming the kingship at the request of the people, the second King building Wat Chang, the third King building a fort, the King Chulalonkorn freeing debt slaves, and the coronation of the present King. The interior of the Throne Hall can only be seen if a permit is granted.