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Notes Of the Royal Kip, The Asian Elephant: 5 Kip (Kingdom Of Laos, 1962)-Article

Updated: Jan 9

This large Laotian banknote represents the 2nd denomination of Royal Kip (Series 1962). The Royal Kip replaced the French Indochinese Piastre at par (1:1), in 1955. The latter was the colonial currency of French Indochina. Which featured a French text observe and a reverse printed in the local language. These language included Vietnamese, Khmer, and Lao.

The banknotes of Royal Kip feature Lao script on their observe and French on their reverse side. Strangely the notes were printed by different printers, primarily British printers Thomas De La Rue and Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. The Royal Kip was formally replaced by the Pathet Lao Kip, in 1979. (This note will be reviewed reverse first)


The reverse depicts a rider on a tamed Asian Elephant. In the background is Pha That Luang (the Great Stupa), in Vientiane. The Great Stupa is a 3rd century gold-covered Buddhist temple, located in the Laotian capital. The temple is regarded as the most important building in Laos and is regarded as a symbol of Lao culture.

Unlike the observe, the reverse features France language text. Although it mostly mirrors the same content. The header reads, the "Banque Nationale Du Laos". Translated as the "National Bank of Laos". While the footer reads, "Le Contrefactuer Sera Puni Conformement A La Loi". This is warning, it translates to "The Counterfeiter Will Be Punished In Accordance With The Law".

At the note's right is the watermark area. When backlit it depicts Erawan, a three-headed elephant under a multi tiered umbrella. Erawan was the royal symbol of the Kingdom of Laos (1953–1975). Notably Erawan is also the Thai-Laotian name for Airavata. The white elephant mount of the Hindu god Indra, King of Svarga (Heaven) and the Devas (Gods).

The note's value is listed at its 4 corners. The upper left and right corners feature a simple number "5". While the lower right corner features "5 Kip", on a floral guilloché backing. The text "Cinq Kip", translated as "Five Kip" is listed on the lower left. The remainder of the note's frame features a simple guilloché backing.


The observe features a portrait of King Sisavang Vong (1885-1959). Who first served as leader of the Kingdom of Luang Phrabang (1707-1893) and the Kingdom of Laos (1953-1975). In 1959, King Sisavang Vong was succeeded by his son Sisavang Vatthana (1907-1978) Who served until his abdication to the Pathet Lao, in 1975.

Opposite of the portrait is a framed watermark area, featuring Erawan the three headed elephant. The Lao script header reads "ທະນາຄານ​ແຫ່ງ​ຊາດ​ລາວ", translated as the "National Bank of Laos". While the footer reads "ຜູ້ປອມແປງຈະຖືກລົງໂທດຕາມກົດໝາຍ", warning "The Counterfeiter Will Be Punished In Accordance With The Law".

At the note's center is additional text, on guilloché backing with floral embellishments. The first lint line of text reads "ຫ້າກີບ", representing the note's "Five Kip" value. This is followed by a pair of signatures, representing the Bank Governor and Censure. Their titles are given both in Lao and French. Nearby this text are dual serial (697039) and batch (A.16.) numbers.

There Lao numerals (໕) at 3 of the note corners, they represent the note's "5" Kip value. The upper left and right numerals rest on floral floral guilloché backings. Below them are Lao style floral embellishments. While final numeral rests on the lower-left of the note's underprint. Opposite of this numeral is one of the serial numbers (697039).

The Asian Elephant

The endangered Asian Elephant is the largest animal native to South and Southeast Asian. Although once widespread from the East Asian coast to portions of West Asian. Current populations are mostly distributed in isolated pockets. These pockets include populations of the Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran subspecies. \

Asian Elephants are smaller than their cousins the African Elephant. Asian elephants are descended from ancient African populations and thus have a number of subtle differences. Asian elephants have smaller ears, less loose skin, and an arched back. Their trunks have only one tip, instead of two.

Asian elephant heads have 2 domes and are the highest part of their body. As opposed to African elephants that have 1 dome, that is slightly lower than their shoulders. The number of toes differ between the 2 species. Both have 5 front toes, although Asian elephants have 4 back toes. While African elephants have only 3 back toes.

Asian elephant males slightly larger, than females of the same species. Although less so than their African cousins. A male elephants are 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall and weigh 4,000 kg (8,800 pounds). While male elephants are 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall and weigh 4,000 kg (8,800 pounds).

Asian Elephants being trained for traditional logging, in Southeast Asia.
Asian Elephants being trained for traditional logging, in Southeast Asia.

Unlike African Elephants, the Asian Elephant have longer history of domestication. With the earliest depictions dating to 3,000 BCE, by the Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BCE to 1300 BCE). This tradition continues into modern times in South and Southeast Asia. Particularly rural areas where elephants are used in traditional logging.

From a young age elephants are trained by a howdah or keeper. Who creates a close bond with their mount. Generally most tamed elephants are used for carrying people or cargo. Although logging remains in demand as a specialized type of labor.

The advantage of using elephants is their mobility and ease of maintenance. As elephants can feed from the natural environment. Unlike modern machinery, elephants can walk between trees and cross waterways. They also reduced environmental damage in comparison to tracked skids, which drag logs causing more damage.

Although it should be noted this form of traditional logging has been declining. Leading to elephant keepers to seek other forms of employment. Such as working as tour guides, providing tourist rides along nature trails. Some have sought employment as forest rangers, using their skills to stop poachers and illegal logging operations.

One particular area of interest are temple elephants. Which are used in religious Buddhist and Hindu religious processions and festivals. These elephants are occasionally ornately dressed and painted for parades. Although are more often used to receive donations at major temples.

A mahout washing his elephant, at Kanchipuram Temple.
A mahout washing his elephant, at Kanchipuram Temple.

1962 Royal Kip Gallery

(Gallery features the complete 1962 Royal Kip Series)


Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are 133 x 84 mm or 5.24 in x 3.31 in, larger than a US Dollar.

  • This banknote is wider and shorter, than a standard US Dollar (6.14 x 2.61 in).

  • It's recommended to use large protective sleeves cut to size, when preserving this note.

  • On 22 October 1953, the Kingdom of Laos was granted independence from France.

  • French Indochina included the modern nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

  • West Asian Elephants are believed to have been an extinct subspecies.

  • The term Syrian Elephant is used for ancient West Asian Elephants.

  • Female Asian Elephants unlike African Elephants often lack tusk.

Photo Credits

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