Based on comparative studies of the royal chronicles, ancient knowledge of elephant handling, and mural paintings found in the halls of Buddhist temples from the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods, the relationship between kings and elephants, even horses or cattle, was very close. The kings usually led the capture of wild elephants, even the rarer white elephants, and reared the to be used as land transportation, means of combat in war, or even as gifts for establishing diplomatic relations with other kingdoms. The kings permitted the aristocrats and other civilians to possess elephants and, in turn, these elephants were sometimes presented to the kings as pledges of loyalty.
Based on the historical evidence mentioned above, each human figure was identifiable: the man wearing a headdress sitting on the saddle on the elephant’s back was assumed to be a very important person; the man sitting on the elephant’s hip was a keeper, and the four men likely carrying swords in sheaths beside the elephant’s legs, warriors. Hence, this Si Satchanalai piece in the form of an elephant with a rider and keepers represented one mode of transportation in royal or aristocratic circles.
Because of its condition, meaning and artistic value, this figurine is considered to be one of the masterpieces on display in the permanent exhibition portion of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, highlighting the history of Southeast Asian ceramics and its trade.