Sanphet is a constellation visible in the Southern Night Sky. The image of Sanphet is that of an elephant, specifically a War Elephant in the historical battle of Sarai. War elephants were commonly used in warfare of the region and their main use was to charge the enemy, breaking their ranks and instilling terror. One of the major difficulties in the region was terrain, and elephants could cross difficult terrain in many cases more easily than horse cavalry. War elephants played a critical role in several key battles in antiquity, but their use declined with the spread of firearms in the early modern period. Military type elephants were then restricted to non-combat engineering and carrying around things, and some ceremonial uses instead. Back when Ayutthaya was a collection of warring states, King Sukho’s reign was marked by one of the most legendary battles in its pre-modern history. Atop his elephant, the king called out to the crown prince of Zomia to face him in single combat. He accepted and Sukho killed his opponent, winning the battle that secured his nation’s later victory in the war. Sanphet is the name of the elephant personally trained by Sukho since his adolescence. Several writers give accounts of Sanphet, which was probably a large elephant with one tusk despite the constellation depicting two. According to these, Sanphet wore a red cloth, and may also have carried a red shield and a howdah (a construction on the animal's back), which served as a platform for King Sukho. The use of war elephants over the centuries has left a deep cultural legacy in many countries of the Zomia Tropics. Even though today elephant riding is hugely frowned upon, it’s one of the most enduring stories from this era of the Ayuthaya's history and one that they’re fiercely proud of.
Grand Elephant, War Elephant
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