The other day I was looking up the words 'Strange animals in Laos' when I came across the following intriguing information in Google Books:
Among the strange animals belonging to Siam, there is one described under the name of Khon Pāā, which belongs to the known genus of natural history. This animal has been seen by the prince and hundreds of others, yet we must confess, we are inclined to doubt the accuracy of description. The Khon Pāā resembles a man; it is five feet high, walks erect, has no knee joints, and runs faster than a horse.Should he accidentally fall, he is forced to crawl to a tree or something else, by which he again raises himself on his feet. His skin is transparent as a China horn lantern; his entrails are distinctly seen through it, and his abdomen shines like a looking-glass – credit qui vult, non ego. Under the superstitious notion, that the presence of the animal in Bankok was unlucky, his owners were bambooed, and all their property was confiscated by the king for bringing him there. This treatment caused so much terror, that no one has since ventured to bring a specimen of the beast from his native lurking places (1)
The transparent skin reminds me of E.T.'s glowing belly!
The Khon-Paa has by today been transformed,thus: 'Traditionally, in Thailand, the forest has a negative connotation. For example, the term Khon paa (forest people) is a perjorative term for the backward, uncivilised,and wild, as opposed to Khon meuang (town people) , which relates to the modern,clean,and well educated….' (2)
1. W.S.W.Ruschenberger. (c.1835) A voyage round the world: including an embassy to Muscat and Siam in 1835 pp294-295
2. C.O.Delang The Political Ecology of Deforestation in Thailand. Geography vol 90(3) 2005 p.234