Friday, October 2, 2009

VII. Of the State Officers, and particularly of the Tchacry, Calla-hom, and of the General of the Elephants.

Of the chief Officers in general; Of the Tchacry; Of the Callahom; Of the General of the Elephants.

Amongst the Court Officers are principally those, to whom are annexed the Functions of our Secretaries of State: but before an entrance be made into this matter, I must declare that all the chief Officers in any kind of Affairs whatever, have under them as many of those Subaltern Officers which compose the Tribunal of the Tchaou-Meuang.

The Tchacry has the distribution of all the Interior polity of the Kingdom: to him revert all the affairs of the Provinces: All the Governours do immediately render him an Account, and do immediately receive Orders from him: he is President of the Council of State.

The Calla-hom has the appointment of the War: he has the care of the Fortifications, Arms, and Ammunitions: He issues out all the Orders, that concern the Armies; and he is naturally the General thereof, altho the King may name whom he pleases for General. By Van Vliet’s Relation it appears that the Command of the Elephants belonged also to the Calla-hom, even without the Army. But now this is a separate Employment, as some have assured me: either for that the present King’s Father, after having made use of the Office of the Calla-hom to gain the Throne; resolved to divide the Power thereof, or that naturally they are two distinct Offices, which may be given to a single Person.

However it be, ‘tis Oc-Pra Pipitcharatcha corruptly called Petratcha, who commands all Elephants, and all the Horses: and it is one of the greatest Employments of the Kingdom, because that the Elephants are esteemed the King of Siam’s Principal Forces. Some there are who report that this Prince maintains Ten Thousand, but is impossible to be known, by reason that Vanity always inclines these People to Lying: and they are more vain in the matter of Elephants than in any thing else. The Metropolis of the Kingdom of Laos is called Lan-Tchang, and its name in the Language of the Country, which is almost the same as the Siameses, signifies Ten Millions of Elephants. The King of Siam keeps therefore a very great number: and it is said that three men at least are required for the service of every Elephant: and these men, with all the Officers that command them, are under the orders of Oc-Pra Pipitcharatcha: who though he has only the Title of Oc-Pra, is yet a very great Lord. The people love him because he appears moderate; and think him invulnerable, because he expressed a great deal of Courage in some Fight against the Peguins: his Courage has likewise procur’d him the Favour of the King his Master. His Family has continued a long time in the highest Offices: is frequently allied to the Crown; and it is publickly reported that he or his Son Oc-Louang Souracac may pretend to it, if either of them survive the King that now Reigns. The Mother of Oc-Pra Pipitcharatcha was the King’s Nurse, and the Mother of the first Ambassador whom we saw here: and when the King commanded the great Barcalon, the Brother of this Ambassador, to be bastinado’d the last time, ‘twas Oc-Louang Souracac the Son of Oc-Pra Pipitcharatcha that bastinado’d him by the King’s order, and in his presence; the Prince’s Nurse, the Mother of the Barcalon, lying prostrate at his Feet to obtain pardon for her Son.

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