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It refers instead to a regular repayment or installment. One familiar way of telling time in modern Central Thai combines the earlier forms in 2. The system is still in common use, with some minor changes concerning nighttime hours and how to refer to 6 am, 6 pm, and 12 noon. The current system is shown in 2.
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La Loubere ; confirmed that this system was in use for dividing the nighttime during the Reign of King Narai. A somewhat different usage of hour-and-a-half [ya:m] units is characteristic of some Northeastern Lao and Northern inscriptions Dhavaj Punoothok n.
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For more detail see Eade In traditional times, the Thai day began at sunrise for astrologers, but for villagers, when they could see the lines in the palm of their hand. The European system of ordering hours from one to twenty-four, starting at midnight, may have first been adopted by the Thai military. Time of this sort became visually salient in Bangkok when King Mongkut r. Later, in decrees of and , King Vajiravudh established the hour system as the official one, with Thai time set as 7 hours prior to Greenwich Royal Gazette ; Prasert Na Nagara The hour system itself, in two sets of 12, is of great antiquity and can be traced back to early Egyptian sources.
In Proto-Tai times, I suggest that there were three main three ways of keeping track of days. A rich system of terms of this sort can be found in a number of Tai languages, although it is not certain yet how much of the system, and which particular terms, would go back to Proto-Tai. The second system would have been tied to the moon, which we consider again below under months.
The moon is in Capricorn today.
On a world scale, Marschak and others have found material evidence that counting days by the moon was recorded tens of thousands of years ago by our early ancestors. In several Tai languages, including Nung and others with little or no Indic vocabulary or Buddhist influence, days of the lunar month are also counted from New Moon to Full fifteen days and back to new, but details and specific forms vary. Even terms for new and Full Moon are different, although the concepts must be universal.
Comparative evidence is thus good for some Proto-Tai system of this sort, but sparse as to details of exactly how Proto-Tai speakers would have kept track of days of the lunar month. The third reckoning system for days that the Proto-Tais probably used is the day decimal-duodecimal series, illustrated in 3.
This impression from the inscriptions that the day system was considered to be Tai in essence is strongly supported by comparative evidence. Terwiel and sources cited therein establish the extent of this means of counting days in the Tai area and show that it is motivated partly by a system of lucky and unlucky occasions.
This is especially clear in certain Tai-Ahom sources such as lucky-day or [lak-ni] lists. It may be that moveable markets were regulated by these terms and there are also reports of two days of rest per ten-day cycle. The term cycle undoubtedly has an ultimate relationship with an isomorphic early Chinese practice, but there may be other associations as well. Etymologically, while the majority of duodecimal items have plausible Chinese cognates 7. During the Shang era 14 th century BC a similar day counting system has been found which was later extended to year-counting by the late Han 2 nd century AD.
Thereafter, among the Chinese the day-counting function of the terms gradually fell into disuse, with year-counting and even hour-counting becoming the popular use of the system. For the Proto-Tais, however, both days and years continued to employ the same sequence, perhaps furnishing a clue as to contact period. However, before concluding that the item series is simply a cultural borrowing from Chinese, a fuller study of other adjacent traditions needs to be undertaken. For example, it is well-known that Javanese, Balinese and other Austronesian calendrical traditions make use of superimposed cycles.
Balinese practice, for example, makes use of repeating 6-item and 5-item sequences, which, if doubled, would be isomorphic to the Tai system.
The 6-item series refers to animals and the 5-item one to colours Sujiati Beratha, p. Leaving the Proto-Tai era, we turn to the seven-day week familiar to Westerners as it appears in Thailand. In fact, someone learning Thai might be forgiven for assuming that the Thai seven-day week had been recently borrowed from Europe as part of the process of modernisation; compare the hour system discussed above, which is clearly such an import. The Indic-derived names of the Thai days correlate with heavenly bodies, perfectly matching the familiar sequence of French and other Romance languages as in 3.
We know that many Western lexical items have been assigned neo-Sanskritic names, calques or forms otherwise created by the Thai Royal Institute and similar authorities. Surely the week names would fall into this familiar category? But this is not the case.
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These are Sanskrit names of long standing. Tais of Sukhothai, Chiangmai and later, of Ayudhya and elsewhere quite naturally adopted this system. It has even been reported in use among less-Indicised Tais such as certain Black Tai groups. It is interesting that colours and auspicious and inauspicious associations have been imputed to weekdays by some Central Thais, as in 3. Could this be a transference of some sort from the older day cycle that probably had similar luck-associated associated beliefs?
To trace the seven-day week briefly backwards in time, evidence indicates that it arrived in India in the first few centuries AD, along with the twelve zodiacal signs below and a range of theory and method relating to the Greek system of astronomy. This was epitomised in the work of Claudius Ptolemy, who lived in Alexandria in Egypt c. One tradition is that after Christian monks took control of Alexandria in Egypt in about AD, burning its great library and cruelly murdering Hypatia, a female mathematician of great fame, scholars fled from Egypt to India.
Sanskrit sources explicitly refer to the Greek astronomers and Greek technical loanwords were adopted Roebuck ; Pingree However, the Indic tradition had an impressive preexisting expertise in Astronomical matters and elements of the Hellenistic system were grafted into this, as we see below.
An interesting Indic addition to the list of celestial beings is Rahu, the invisible monster responsible for eclipses.
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As we see in section 8 below, Rahu still appears as number 8 in Thai astrological [duang] diagrams, along with the seven visible celestial bodies associated with weekdays. Many scholars agree that the ultimate source of the seven-day week is Babylon, where the Jews accepted it during their captivity approximately the time of the Buddha , perhaps then projecting this backwards in their scriptures to the 7-day creation of the world.
Both Jews and Babylonians may have observed a lunar-based week prototype earlier, with main phases of the moon functioning somewhat like special Buddhist days [wan-phra] in current Thai practice, to which the Babylonian system may even be distantly related. The seven-day week may thus have been a regularisation of the lunar system, where main lunar phases vary between seven and eight days. In any case, the Hellenistic period brought eastern fashions and cults to Greece and Rome and the seven-day week seems first to have been taken up as an astrological cultic practice—not at first as a civil system.
The eruption of Mt Vesuvius 79 AD covered a wall with graffiti referring to the seven day week and making explicit associations with corresponding Roman and Greek gods and their planets. Not long after this time the system spread to the Teutonic outreaches of the Roman empire and, with proper equations of Teutonic gods, became the English week still in use.
A final chapter in the Western story came with the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine, who decreed the seven-day week the official system for Rome in AD. Incidentally, this effectively established the prototype of the official weekend as well, as Sunday became an official day off and Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, a day devoid of normal commercial activities. As noted above, it was about the time of Constantine or a century or so afterwards that there is firm evidence in India of the seven-day week spreading there. We have noted already its further eastward progress—ultimately to modern Thai usage.
The early Tai association of certain days with fortune and misfortune may have been partially remapped onto the seven day week. Some Thai beliefs regarding days of the week shown in 3. For selecting names for the newborn, particular weekdays were held to correlate with letters of the Thai alphabet in auspicious combinations.
In traditional practice, at least in aristocratic circles, if a baby was born, say, on Sunday, to be auspicious, its name needed to begin with a vowel i. King Chulalongkorn was born on a Tuesday, accounting for the palatal ch- letter beginning his name. This traditional system, which slightly upsets Indic alphabetic order, is shown in 3. In this acount, the indicated lucky letter should preferably begin the name or for female two-syllable names, begin the second syllable , but it might otherwise occur as second letter or final.
Other versions, sometimes quite elaborate, are available in Thai astrology manuals which are still widely consulted when children are born. In one such account Chamnong Thongprasert eight prognostics are associated with days of the week and with letters to be considered when choosing a name, as in 3.
In yet more complex a variant, the prognostics columns in 3. Prior to the Greek impact on Indic astronomy, the Hindus had carefully observed the day-by-day progress of the moon through the ecliptic over the course of one lunar month to the next. In cases where a stretch of the zodiac lacked bright stars, other stars or constellations of similar longitude were used to name the mansion, as in mansions 6, 13, 15, etc.
An occasional 28 th mansion was sometimes added to keep the system accurate. The system was codified to be a reliable way of keeping track of days.
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For convenience, Indic retroflex consonants are shown by capital letters. Thai tradition has associated different shapes with the star groups Royal Institute Other time units are suggested by this division of the zodiac. Lunar months could be designated by this system, with the mansion of the Full Moon in a given month furnishing the name of the month, as noted below. In addition a unit similar to an hour is obtained by attending to the particular mansion either on the eastern horizon or directly overhead at a given moment the latter usually called [rkSa] in Sanskrit, cp Thai [roe:k].
This system was clearly known to writers of 14 th century Tai inscriptions, who were interested in auspicious timing. They tended to redefine technical terms slightly, with [roe:k] in Thai referring to the mansions and the Thai form of [nakasat] extended to refer to cyclical years i.
Like the early Hindus, the Babylonians were keen astronomers. However, instead of dividing the zodiac into lunar mansions as the Hindus did, it is likely that they were responsible for first dividing it into the twelve solar-based zodiacal constellations familiar in the West. Greece and then Rome adopted the system through early contact. It was passed on to India along with the seven-day week, as above, where it was superimposed over the earlier lunar mansions, as though the same star groups now had two ways to be interpreted.
Twelve of the lunar mansions were selected to name twelve lunar months, the month-names derived from the [nakSatra] names by undergoing a Sanskrit phonological lengthening process vrddhi.