Quiz about Tales of the White Elephant
Quiz about Tales of the White Elephant

Tales of the White Elephant Trivia Quiz


The Globetrot Trivia 2 Challenge is now stopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While researching the area, I found the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary there, which led me to information regarding Thailand's sacred white elephants.

A photo quiz by ponycargirl. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
ponycargirl
Time
4 mins
Type
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
392,233
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
166
Awards
Top 10% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 172 (10/10), Guest 174 (10/10), Guest 73 (4/10).
photo quiz
1. Many Asian countries hold the white elephant in an honored place in their society. This is not surprising considering that the white elephant is said to have been important to the birth of what early religious leader there? Hint

Guru Nanak
Confucious
Siddartha Gautama
Lao-Tzu

photo quiz
2. White elephants are a separate species of elephant.

True
False

photo quiz
3. Who owns all of the white elephants in Thailand? Hint

Government
Army
King
People

photo quiz
4. White elephants are not truly albino. Which of the following features, in addition to the skin, are taken into consideration when deciding if an elephant is actually a white elephant? Hint

Trunk and hair
Lips and ears
Tusks and tail
Eyelashes, toenails, and hair

photo quiz
5. Which of the following organizations in Thailand decides if an elephant meets the criteria required to be called a white elephant? Hint

Office of National Buddhism
Bureau of Royal Household
National Police Agency
Royal Institute of Thailand

photo quiz
6. The white elephant in Thailand has served as a national symbol of the country. While no longer displayed on the national flag, it is seen on which of the following? Hint

Royal Standard of the King
Royal Thai Army Flag
Flag of the Prime Minister of Thailand
Royal Thai Navy Naval Ensign

photo quiz
7. Who was the first leader of Thailand to have a white elephant? Hint

Trailot
Akbar
Shah Jahan
Darius the Great

photo quiz
8. In 1861 the then King of Siam offered the United States President a gift of elephants to enhance his war effort when he learned that elephants were not native to North America. Which of the following presidents, along with his Secretary of State William Seward, sent a polite refusal? Hint

James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant

photo quiz
9. When white elephants are selected to be royal elephants there is something more that is examined besides their appearance. What other trait is important to take into consideration when grading a white elephant? Hint

Height
Length of tusks
Behavior
Date of birth

photo quiz
10. The white elephant came to have the connotation of being an unwanted gift because its care was a financial burden on the recipient.

True
False


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Many Asian countries hold the white elephant in an honored place in their society. This is not surprising considering that the white elephant is said to have been important to the birth of what early religious leader there?

Answer: Siddartha Gautama

Sources differ a bit regarding the story of Siddartha Gautama's birth; the white elephant, however, holds a prominent place in all of them. His father was King Suddhodana and his mother was Queen Maha Maya. One night the queen had a dream that she was taken to Lake Anotatta, where she was bathed by four spirits.

After that a white elephant appeared, circling around her three times before entering her womb through her right side. Baffled by the dream, the king and queen sent for wise men, hoping they would be able to interpret it.

They knew that the white elephant was a symbol of greatness and were not disappointed by what they were told, " "Your Majesty, you are very lucky. The devas (spirits) have chosen our queen as the mother of the Purest-One and the child will become a very great being.".

The royal couple was so happy that they sponsored a great feast and gave food and clothes to the needy people of their kingdom. Gautama, of course, went on to become the founder of Buddhism.
2. White elephants are a separate species of elephant.

Answer: False

Believe it or not, sources do not agree on how many species of elephants inhabit the world; some say there are only two types of elephants - Asian elephants and African elephants, while others say there are three types - Asian elephants ("Elephas maximus"), African bush elephants, ("Loxodonta africana"), and African forest elephants ("L. cyclotis").

The feature that makes a white elephant stand out is its coloring; although paintings make it seem that a white elephant is a bright white, its skin is really considered to be light gray or a very light reddish brown, that typically turns pink when it is wet.
3. Who owns all of the white elephants in Thailand?

Answer: King

A sacred symbol of royal power, all white elephants that are found in Thailand have to be given to the King and are considered to be an extension of his power and majesty. Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand from June 9, 1946-October 13, 2016) is believed to have owned twenty-one.

While historically elephants have been used as beats of burden and have been ridden into battle, white elephants don't have to work. In addition, they are not allowed to breed, and they are not always taken into captivity. Thailand does, however, maintain a Royal Elephant Stable, which is not usually open to the public.

In the picture the Royal Regalia of Siam is displayed; the Great Crown of Victory, Royal Staff, Sword of Victory, Royal Slippers, and Royal Fan and Flywhisk are seen.

The Royal Flywhisk - you guessed it - is made from the tail of a white elephant!
4. White elephants are not truly albino. Which of the following features, in addition to the skin, are taken into consideration when deciding if an elephant is actually a white elephant?

Answer: Eyelashes, toenails, and hair

It is interesting to note that an elephant is carefully studied before it is designated as a white elephant. Typically the eyelashes will be yellow, and the animal will have white hair and white toenails. The elephant's dung is also examined to see if it smells "sweet". If chosen, the elephant is given the title of "chang samkhan", which translates as "auspicious elephant".

The implication is that the elephant is pure. In addition, the elephant may even be given a royal title.
5. Which of the following organizations in Thailand decides if an elephant meets the criteria required to be called a white elephant?

Answer: Bureau of Royal Household

The Bureau of Royal Household is responsible for the maintenance of the King's three royal palaces, managing some of the family's public relations (there is a Royal Ceremonies Division within the BRH which organizes some events), and supervising some of the King's finances.

Another task trusted to the agency is the evaluation of white elephants that are given to the king. There is an actual checklist and grading system used; each elephant that is presented is assigned one of four possible grades before being brought to the King's attention. Lower graded white elephants may be refused.

In the past they were presented to the King's allies and friends.
6. The white elephant in Thailand has served as a national symbol of the country. While no longer displayed on the national flag, it is seen on which of the following?

Answer: Royal Thai Navy Naval Ensign

Prior to the adoption of a new national flag in 1917 by King Rama VI, the white elephant was prominently displayed. Since then the national flag is comprised of horizontal stripes of red, white and blue. The blue stripe, representing the monarch, is located in the middle, and is larger than the others, which are all the same size.

The white stripes, representing Buddhism, both border on the blue; the red stripes represent the blood spilled to insure Thailand's independence. Resembling the current national flag, the Royal Navy flag features a centered red circle on top of the stripes, which contains a white elephant.

The purpose of a naval ensign is typically to signal the nationality of the ship that is flying it.
7. Who was the first leader of Thailand to have a white elephant?

Answer: Trailot

Also called Borommatrailokkanat, King Trailot ruled Thailand from 1448-1488. Considered to be one of the greatest monarchs to rule Thailand, he is known for reforming the bureaucracy of government officials and successfully defended his king from the invading Lan Na. Trailot is also called the "King of White Elephants".
8. In 1861 the then King of Siam offered the United States President a gift of elephants to enhance his war effort when he learned that elephants were not native to North America. Which of the following presidents, along with his Secretary of State William Seward, sent a polite refusal?

Answer: Abraham Lincoln

Calling King Rama IV (Mongut) his "Good and Great Friend" Abraham Lincoln made a polite refusal, "I appreciate most highly Your Majesty's tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil.

This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States...." In addition to the offer, the King sent a sword and scabbard, a pair of elephant tusks, and a picture of himself with one of his daughters.

The letter, intended for President Buchanan, or "whoever would become president", outlined a specific plan for the exchange of the animals and their care and upkeep.
9. When white elephants are selected to be royal elephants there is something more that is examined besides their appearance. What other trait is important to take into consideration when grading a white elephant?

Answer: Behavior

White elephants are not bred but found in the wild. Consequently, it is necessary to make sure that each elephant has certain behavioral characteristics. King Bhumibo, who passed away in 2016 after reigning for 70 years, had an unprecedented 21 of the animals.

While mourners were paying their respects, a different type of visitor arrived at Bangkok's Grand Palace. Nine white elephants, along with two that had been painted white, arrived with 200 mahouts, or trainers, and kneeled in front of the palace gate. You see, it just wouldn't do to choose an unruly or untrainable sort of white elephant.
10. The white elephant came to have the connotation of being an unwanted gift because its care was a financial burden on the recipient.

Answer: True

Because white elephants are sacred, they are not used for work of any kind. Consequently, anyone who was gifted a white elephant by the king - many times those of lower grades were given to friends or allies - had a large, relatively unproductive animal to feed and care for.

This type of gift could not be refused. The upkeep was enormously expensive and only the very wealthy could afford to keep a white elephant without the fear of facing a financial burden. There is a story of the king purposefully gifting one to an enemy, condemning him to financial ruin.
Source: Author ponycargirl

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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