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Description of Warfare in the Late 17th Century Siam - The Ship of Sulaiman

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If you've followed my write up on the history of warfare in Southeast Asia with a view to why Thailand's Muay Thai may have favored a defensive, retreating style, two citations in that series come from The Ship of Sulaiman, an Iranian report of the court of Ayutthaya in the last 17th century. You can see the full thread write up linked at bottom. But as these citations are important in the picture building of Anthony Reid I want to footnote them here and include the much longer original passage in which they are included. They describe the most symbolic forms of warfare in Siam and Burma, and express the purported reasoning behind the "capture-not-kill" logic of region. Because labor was more important than territory, very blood battles were not favored, because you would be killing those who could labor for you, or at the very least pay tribute from their labor. Here is the citation:





Things that stand out are: emphasizing that this is a recount of a battle hundreds of years in the past; the description of warring forces to music, a logic of surrounding capture employing feints and deceptions not only invokes some of the more stylized aspects of Thailand's Muay Thai, but also the spatial logic of the game of Go that I reference in the longer write up; and, the Siamese version of events describe how trickery was used to defeat a much larger/stronger foe in the Burmese prince, including the use of a firearm. The story continues onto another episode of deception when the Burmese seek revenge. At least in some measure there is a pride of winning vs larger/stronger opposition through intelligence and deception, a trait that matches up with other aspects of Muay Thai's retreating style, and the modern Muay Femeu vs Muay Khao dyad, in which the femeu fighter is favored by score.



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