because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ma Ying Taphan

In the mid-1800's, King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand) had a harem with a population of 9000. A city that size -- and with that very special importance -- required an absolutely trustworthy protective force. Under normal circumstances, Siamese kings used samurai warriors and other mercenaries as their elite forces, but this was an unusual situation and necessitated unusual measures. So King Mongkut had a group of women drilled in the use of muskets and placed under the leadership of Ma Ying Taphan ("Great Mother of War").

Taphan's 400 troops, who dressed in yellow uniforms, were the best trained of all the King's soldiers and were never defeated in battle. The name Ma Ying Taphan appears in Siamese history in 1688, as well, suggesting that the title Great Mother of War might have been used in a more honorary fashion than bestowed as a name, per se. But the great photo to the left demanded that we recognize the later warrior.

A picture of an in-your-face woman is worth ten thousand words.

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