Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Comic: The Qualities of Decent People

The Office of the National Culture Commission has published Sombat Khong Phudee (The Qualities of Decent People), a comic book designed to teach children about the "Thai way".

So far, the comic has cast its view on butt cleavage, "disgusting behaviors" and respect for elders. Adults can learn a thing or two from the comic, too, I suspect. is translating the pages in installments. They are only on day two and I'm already hooked. What will happen next?

1 comment:

  1. สมบัติของผู้ดี "Sombat Khong Phudee"* is actually a famous etiquette guide written in 1912, which has been "mandated" reading in schools for most of a century. It's a slim manual that can still be bought at any large bookstore. You can find it in Thai online here or here. The book consists of ten sections, each section containing bullet points about what a "phudee" should or shouldn't do.

    The version currently in use was revised expanded by the original author's son in 1960. It adds ten appendices, one for each of the original chapters, explaining the archaic language used in the (now hundred-year-old) work, with examples.

    I guess the Ministry of Culture figured that if the book was outdated in 1960 and needed explanation, then the only way to reach youngsters nowadays is through comics.

    Also, it says something about societal changes over a century that the original book dealt with things like not touching the person of an elder without permission, and its modern update talks about not showing your buttcrack in public...

    *On a side note, the phrase "phudee" ผู้ดี actually means more like "person of good breeding", and by extension, "person of refinement". Indeed, the author of the "Sombat Khong Phudee" booklet was part of the old aristocracy, descended from Thai royalty (a great-grandson of Rama II, if my quick check of Thai Wikipedia isn't mistaken). "Phudee" is also the title of a famous early Thai novel by Dokmai Sot (first published 1937), which was translated into English as "A Person of Quality" by Marcel Barang.


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