Mythical Guardians: The Ogre and The Snake

Context: According to my informant, her grandmother has stated that the story of the Ogre and the Snake date back to the beginning of Buddhist temples in Thailand, and they serve as protectors that ward off evil. The Ogre is more of a gate guardian, they say he is a scary-looking beast. When entering a Buddhist temple, it is also suggested that one does not step on the segment of the door frame that lies beneath their foot. This is a sign of disrespect towards the protector and can lead to bad omens for the individual. The snake, on the other hand, is not embedded in the door, but rather on the railing of the stairs leading up to the temple. The snake serves to entangle enemies within its grasp to prevent them from reaching the door, and if the evil manages to get past the snake, it must face the ogre. These beasts are not just passed down between oral description, but are sometimes physically engrained and carved into the physical door and railings of temples, as noted by the informant who has seen them in real life.

Analysis: In many cultures, scary beasts are used as protectors since they are daunting enough to ward off other monsters. This specific case of the ogre may remind one of the seraphim within the bible, which were often depicted as beautiful within modern-day media until most recently. The seraphim would actually have to announce their presence and well intent when revealing their true forms to humanity, for they were rather grotesque. The ogre in the story is described as having a row of tusks along his jaw, which can be connected to the rows of wings that surround the seraphim. The snake is another sly entity within many cultures, but overall it represents serenity within destruction, reflective of the monks’ altruism and pacifism. These scary mythical beasts contrast with the peaceful men within the temples for their presence must be starkly different in order to serve as purposeful protectors.