Different breeds of Siamese cats

Different breeds of Siamese cats

My Mother has always loved cats but the only cats we have had are Siamese cats particularly Wichian Matt. We also have a little cat sanctuary with 16 cats living at our family home. In contrary to the western world, Siamese cats are no longer as popular in Thailand and, in my view, newer and western breeds are favoured. But there used to be a time,  as long as 500 years ago, when Siamese cats were only palace animals and popular, beloved pets in the Siam Royal Court.

Thai people are very spiritual people. In the past people were inclined to believe in omens and felt that certain attributes in animals/nature were auspicious or ill-favoured. This included Siamese cats. “Tamra Maew” (circa 1350-1767) the Thai cat-book poem is the oldest breed standard and cat care manual in the world. Also there is another important book of Thai cats which SMUD KHOI OF CATS (circa 1868-1910) which is a folded book made out of special handmade paper. King Rama V commissioned  Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Buddhasarmahathera (high ranking monk) to paint the cats in Smud Khoi of Cats.  King Rama V one of Thailand’s most beloved king, had a Korat cat. The king held a full state funeral when his favourite cat died.

original4

The Parort, identified as “steel blue” and “Maha Mongkol”. Mongkhol can also mean “ring”
(from “The legend of Siamese Cats) Image from Koratworld

siamese cats

Detail of Korat Cat in Smud Khoi of Cat, Picture by Margaret Bryan, image from Koratworld

 This article was inspired by Martin Clutterbuck’s Cabinet magazine post. He has lived in Thailand for 25 years.  His article is based upon his book called Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality. The book contains a translation and first academic study of the “Tamra Maew” – the cat book poem.  Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 14.56.57
You can by Martin’s book here: Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality

Here ars the attributes of the 17 auspicious Siamese cats.

Siamese Cats

The pictures with the beige backgrounds on the left sides and description text are from Tamra Maew from Martin’s Article; the pictures on the right with the white background are from the more modern Smud Khoi of the cats, with images from Koratworld.  Images 15-17 are from the Smud Khoi only.

1ninlarat

1. Ninlarat (Dark Sapphire)
As the name, the breed. Dark Sapphire,
Perfect shiny black form,
Teeth, eyes, claws, tongue, black as the body,
And a tapering tail to the end, running back to touch the head

wilat cat

2. Wilat (Beauty)
Round from throat and underbelly, two ears
White to the tail—a cotton flower.
All four paws white, two green eyes,
The name Beauty for its body’s black field.

3 thongdang

3. Suphalak (Excellence) or Thong Daeng (Copper)
Of appearance superb, a graceful feline.
Color of copper glinting,
Eyes lit like shining rays
Against all evil, malevolence turns to content.

4 kaotaem

4. Kao Taem (Nine Points)
Alternating circles on neck, head, and hind thighs,
Plus on both shoulders and front paws,
Black covering the ends of both paws.
Nine horse-like black spots on an all-white background.

5 doklao

5. Maaleht (Flower) or Dork Lao (Lao Flower)
Grace of the flower, its body evenly colored,
Fur like the lao flower, smooth.
Fur roots a cloudy gray, off-white
Eyes, like dewdrops on a lotus.

6 saemsawet

6. Saem Sawet (Alternating White)
Black fur alternates with white in all parts.
Fur light and scant on the body,
The shape orderly, slender, and beautiful.
Eyes lit like fireflies, applied liquid gold.

7 Ratanakamphol

7. Ratanakamphol (Jewelled Cloth)
So called for the body colored as a conch shell,
Thus the name Jeweled Cloth was bestowed.
A dividing band from chest to back,
Golden eyes brim with water like soft light.

8-Wichien-Maat

8. Wichien Maas (Moon Diamond)
Upper mouth, tail, four paws, and two ears,
Eight points of pure black, as stated.
Eye color shines bronze-gray,
The name Moon Diamond for the white fur.

9-ninlachak

9. Ninlajak (Sapphire Circle)
The name Sapphire Circle bespeaks grace.
Body to crows’ wings truly compares,
White around the neck, and
can live in any country; this cat one should look after.

010-mulilaa

10. Mulila
Mulila is one with its name,
Two ears white, as if embroidered.
Eyes like blooming flowers, like the yellow chrysanthemum.
To the tail-tip all black—feet, body, and head.

011-arn-maa

11. Krorp Waen (Spectacle Frame) or Aan Maa (Horse Saddle)
Spectacle Frame is the name. White as cliffs,
Black fur around the eyes, as if dyed.
On the back, like a horse’s saddle,
A beautiful inky circle. Found in any country.

012-Pat-sawet

 

12. Pat-sawet (White Line) or Pattalort (Line Throughout)
The white line goes from the nose,
white, all along to the tail, a rarity.
Mixed, alternating to the eye. A short body,
Eyes like golden sands of yellow topaz.

013-Krajork

13.Krajork (Sparrow)
With the name Sparrow, a nice round frame.
Black body, the shaded background.
White fur, like clouds, floats around the mouth.
Eyes a mix of fresh colors, like gamboge pigment.

014-Singha-Sep

14. Singha Sep (Lion)
The Lion is a black-bodied breed.
White around the mouth, around
The neck’s conch-shell mane, and on nose tip.
Gamboge eyes, drops of water fading in light.

15garnweak

15. Garawek  ”Black-coated is the cat called Garn-waek
Her eyes are the colour of bright gold.
On her nose is a ridge of white
So precise as to have been painted by an artist.”

16jatoobot

16. Jatoobot “Ja-too-bot has short fur.
The hairs of her body are black as thought smeared with ink:
Her legs are white.
Her eyes are yellow – yellow as the yellowest flower”

17konyaja

17, Konyaja “With fine black fur all over her body(26) from neck, stomack, legs,
And eyes the colour of the budding yellow flower
This cat is called Kornyaja.
Her mouth and tail are sharply tapered and her legs are as graceful as those of the lion.”

Now that we talked about the pre-modern cat poem books, we can look at the traditional pure breed Siamese cats that are still in Thailand. I like to talk about the place where I’ve been not long ago (2011), Baan Maew Thai (literal translation is traditional Thai cat house) also known as the Thai Cat Centre to the tourists. It’s situated in Ampawa which is a popular day-trip destination from Bangkok. The centre was set up by Kamnan Preecha Pukkabut (Kamnan means Village leader in Thai) because Governor Nawin Khanthahiran of Samut Songkram approached him. Kamnan Preecha has chosen to breed only the 4 types from the Tamra-Maew Wichian Matt, Thong Daeng,  Konyaja and Korat (I am not sure which breed of the cat in Tamra Maew is the most similar to the modern Korat but according to Martin and Korat World, they seemed to think it’s Dok Lao). He also breed Khaomanee cats which have pure white fur with different colour eyes, one blue and one yellow.

Here are some postcard pictures from Baan Maew Thai, these are from Martin Clutterbuck’s website. I bought many of the photographs from Baan Maew Thai but I gave them all to my friends. I need to buy more next time. You can see the pure breed modern Thai cats in these postcards.

Wichien Matt

 8. In the Tamra Maew: Wichien Matt   – or Siamese cat as the western world knows it

wichian matt2

8. In the Tamra Maew: Wichien Matt   – or Siamese cat as the western world knows it

thong daeng

 3. In the Tamra Maew – Suphalak or Thong Daeng

thong daeng

 3. In the Tamra Maew – Suphalak or Thong Daeng

Korat

5. In Tamra Maew – Dok Lao – Now we know them as Korat (Korat is the name of a province in Thailand)

konyaja konja

17. from the Tamra Maew – Konyaja. Thai people still called then Konja but some refer to them as Bombay now.

khaomanee

Khaomanee

So I can talk about our visit to Baan Maew Thai in 2011. It was amazing to see so many pure-breed cats in one place. We met Kamnan Preecha and talked to him about the cats. He is so passionate about Thai cats and believes that to preserve them is to preserve Thai culture. I totally agree, and would support conservation of them. I have to say that I was a little sad that they are in quite small cages due to the space. Bless Kamnan Preecha, he said he’s doing the best he can as this is his private home and he’s using his own money to keep them. I can see that he really cares for them. So if you do go, please donate to support the conservation of Thai cats. The future is still bright as Kamnan Preecha’s grand daughter is now looking after them.  So we can be sure that there is a future for pure-breed Thai cats.

Below are my photos from the Baan Maew Thai:

Wichianmas siamese kitten

Wichien Matt Kitten

Korat Kitten

Korat Kitten

korat cat

Korat cat sleeping

Korat kittens

More Korat Kittens

Kamnan preecha

Kamnan Preecha

Martin says that his interest in Thai cats started from watching Cat 101 on Discovery Channel. Here’s the video:

 

Written by Sherry @ Pause

If you enjoyed this article, please click on the heart to “love it” below. Thank you! Meow!

4