Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Queen of Lungasuka & the Pirate Queens of Pattani

I have a weak spot for the sea. I have always lived near the sea and love the people who live on it.

When I was a boy, my grandfather told me stories of the four great Queens who ruled a pirate kingdom in Thailand.

I came to love the Queens of Pattani in Southern Thailand through his stories; during Pattani's golden age the reign of its four successive queens from 1584,were known as Raja Hijau (The Green Queen), Raja Biru (The Blue Queen), Raja Ungu (The Purple Queen) and Raja Kuning (The Yellow Queen), where the kingdom's economic and military strength was greatly increased to the point that it was able to fight off four major Siamese invasions with the help of the eastern Malay kingdom of Pahang and the southern Malay Sultanate of Johore.

After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to the forces of Burma, King Taksin asked for military assistance from Pattani against Burma but the Sultan did not send help to him. After the founding of the Chakri dynasty Rama I sent Prince Surasi to pacify the region and wage a war against them which ended the sovereignty of the Pattani kingdoms of the south. Throughout the 19th century southern Thailand was subdued and the symbols of its military might were moved and are still on display at the Thai ministry of defense today, as a token symbol of their submission.

In 1902 Pattani was finally annexed into Thailand and was recognized by the British in the 1909 Siam treaty.

These historical circumstances, explain in part why the largely Muslim (minority Buddhist and Hindu) south of Thailand is still having difficulty today. But it is the sea surrounding the south that brings back so many happy memories for me, and I miss so much. It is a large red sea in the evening, and so blue that you cannot tell where the sky begins and the sea ends along the horizon.

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