Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparation of the elephants before Surin elephant festival

Inside the military area is a place where the owners, assisted by the soldiers, put on different items on the caparisoned elephants, like howdas, head-crowns, matresses and forehead pieces. Although this area gets pretty crowded by tusked bulls, everything is made in a very relaxed way, and I could not see any tension on the elephants. The bulls, unchained and attended by only a single mahout/owner, also accept all sort of strange people walking around and between them, without a single indication of irritation. Impressing indeed.

The most important elephants, playing a vital part in the show, got war howdahs on their back, where weapons as spears etc can be kept during a fight.

Soldiers assist the mahouts to put the howdahs on their elephants. ... The howdah was secured on the elephant with a beautiful tail cap, and finally the double forehead caparison was attached. 

Some others got gold colored head crowns,

and others got different kind of equipment, like cannons and other weapons.

Elephant trainer Puy Jay Mau  Sabmak from Pi  Man village, Tamon, Chompon.
It was easy to see that this trainer was an experienced veteran, having a very calm and obedient elephant. And with his proud poisture and well cared beard, he was a real character.
The whole operation, incuding a large number of elephants, followed a structured rutine, while the elephants had some food to eat. Everything went very relaxed and smoothly, and I did not see a single elephant in bad mood or being nervous, exposing stereotypic behaviours.

The result. The star elephant Num Sek is prepeared for the battle.
After the equipment was attached, the elephants had some palm leaves leaves for later hunger, had water to drink, Isnt it nice to see that big bull peacefully drinking from the pipe, beside a younger cow, and her baby?

After drinking, the elephants were taken out to the corner of the stadium at the mahout houses, where they stood in groups, browsing leaves, waiting for their different stage inputs.

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