In our retelling of Sinxay, the king, Phanya Kousarath, goes on a journey as a monk to try to locate and find out what had happened to his sister, Soumountha, who had been abducted by Nyak Koumphan. As it turns out he sees seven beautiful sisters giving alms to monks one morning in Muang Champa and he falls in love with them. Later in the story he sends his envoys, Khun Khon and Khun Sii, to request the hands in marriage of the seven daughters. After the king approves and Khun Khon and Khun Sii go to their parent’s home, they explain their reason for coming and how Phanya Kousarat desires to wed their seven daughters. The father and mother lament how they will miss their daughters and the father tells them,
“You need to know I consider my seven daughters to be as valuable as my own eyes. What you ask makes me want to gouge out my eyes and give them instead, but that is not possible, is it?”
In various ways this is repeated several more times before the daughters leave for Muang Pengchan with the procession led by Khon Khon and Khun Sii.
It’s not always clear where these expressions come from, and it doesn’t seem to be a term for intimacy used presently in Laos or Thailand, at least that we know of. But, we just read this morning in the New York Times how El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord, who was recently recaptured, had a text-based relationship with a famous Mexican actress and it’s remarked how “normal” he appeared in the texts he sent. But was striking was the following,
“He promises he will protect her, care for her as he would “his own eyes,” a common phrase of intimacy shared between fathers and daughters in Mexico.”
So this expression of intimacy is not just isolated to The Kingdom of Laos in the late 1600’s! Interesting…