D. Salutations

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      There are various forms or gestures of salutation, such as joining the palms of the hands together, half-prostration, kneeling, bowing, etc.   To choose the appropriate form, one must take into consideration the status or rank of the person to whom the salutation is addressed and the particular occasion on which it is to be performed.   These forms of salutation may be classified as follows:

1. Joined palms held at chest level

ThaiEt18_2.jpg (78428 bytes)      The joined palms are raised at chest level, the fingers being close together and pointing outwards at a 45-degree angle to the body (figure 19).  This attitude may be assumed by men and women while listening to a sermon and prayers or during a conversation with a revered monk.


arrowrL.jpg (5786 bytes) figure 19

2.The raising (4) of joined palms at three different levels

     The level depends upon the rank or status of the person to be saluted.

     Level 1 - The joined palms are raised to the forehead, the tips of both thumbs lightly touching between the eyebrows are those of the index fingers touching the upper part of the forehead.   While doing this, men should bend low and women make a low curtsey (figure 19A).

     This gesture is used in payinghomage to the Three Gems, Buddhist places and objects of worship when it is not possible for one to make a half-prostration with five parts or members of one's body. 

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     Level 2 - The joined palms are raised to the level of the nose, the tips of the thumbs touching the tip of the nose and those of the index fingers touching between the eyebrows.  In doing this, men should bend down and women should curtsey, but not as low as in level (figure 20).      Level 3 - The joined palms are raised, the tips of the thumbs touching the chin and those of the index fingers touching the tip of the nose.  This gesture is again accompained by a slight bending of the body for men and a curtsey for women (figure 21).
ThaiEt19_1.jpg (89657 bytes) arrowrL.jpg (5786 bytes) figure 20 ThaiEt19_2.jpg (55673 bytes)

figure 21 arrowrR.jpg (5512 bytes)

This is an act of respect towards one's parents, senior ralatives, teachers and revered persons.


     This attitude is used in showing respect to one's acquaintances in general.  If the person concerned is one's equal in age or rank, one may stand while making the wai gesture.   The parties should perform it simultaneously (figure 22).

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     If these gestures are to be performed as a group, all members of the group should be prepared to act in the same way.

3.Halt-prostration (5)

      This gesture of respect is mainly the lowering of one's forehead until it touches the floor or one's joined palms placed on the floor or somewhere else, such as the altar or one's own lap.  It may be perforemd while one is sitting or crouching (sitting in a crouching position).  There are two types of half-prostration, namely the Benchangapradit style and the one performed before a more senior person.

3.1 The Benchangapradit style. This is used in paying homage to the Three Gems, and is performed by touching the floor with five parts of one's body, i.e. the forehead, the hands and the knees.  It consists of three steps, for which one may prepare oneself as follows:

Men: Kneel down and sit on the heels, with the feet in a vertical position.  Place the hands palms down on the thighs (figure 23).

ThaiEt20_3.jpg (58017 bytes) Women: Kneel down and sit on the heels, with the feet in a horizontal position.  Place the hands palms down on the thighs.

Step 1 Join the palms at chest level and position them at a 45-degree angle to the body (figure 24).

Step 2 Raise the joined palms and lower the forehead until the thumbs touch between the eyebrows and the tips of the index fingers touch the forehead (figure 25)

arrowrL.jpg (5786 bytes) figure 24

Step 3 Put the joined palms and arms down onthe floor. Place the hands, palms down, apart so that
the forehead can touch the floor space between them (figure 26).

       While in this position, men should place each elbow sideways in front of each knee and not hunch the back.  Women should place their elbows along-side the knees.

figure 25 arrowrR.jpg (5512 bytes)

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      These three steps are repeated twice more (3 times in all).  Then one may straighten up and rest the thumbs between the eyebows and the tips of the index finger on the forehead for a moment before putting the hands down.  This style of halfprostration can be graceful if it is performed at a moderate speed.

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3.2 Half-prostration before a more senior or revered person.
figure27.jpg (44980 bytes) To do this (man or woman) sit sideways, legs tucked back and in, and join the palms together.  Then raise them to the nose, the fingertips touching the eyebrows, and put them down on the floor, the lower arms alongside one knee.  Finally, lower the forehead until it touches the joined palms (or, to be exact, the joined thumbs).  While doing this, the thumbs should remain in the horizontal position and not be raised to the forehead
(figure 27).
(4) This gesture of salutation, which is called wai in Thai, is common in Thai society.
(5) This form of salutation is also common in Thai society.


Last updated: 29 June 2000 arrowback.gif (1004 bytes) arrow.gif (1001 bytes) arrownext.gif (999 bytes)




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