Singoung Burmese): (Gale 1974:159) Head elephant-man. Oozies
and peieiks come under him.
Interview with veteran mahout Mew Salangam,
in Ban Ta Klang, Surin, Thailand:
There are five ranks within the Kui mahout system:
The highest rank is labelled as gold color, and referred to as Ku Ba Yai. Theres is no more Ku Ba Yai living today.
The second rank is labelled as silver color, and referred to as Sadam. Mew Salangam
The third rank is labelled black color, and referred to as Sah Dien.
The forth rank is labelled as rope, and referred to as Cha.
The fifth rank is Mah.
Since no wild elephants are caught anymore by Surin Mahouts, its impossible for the younger mahouts in Surin today to reach the highest ranks.
Sabu (full name Sabu Dastagir or Selar Shaik Sabu, depending upon your source) was born in the little town of Mysore, India in 1924. The son of an Indian mahout, he was discovered by documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty who was in India looking for someone to play the lead in an upcoming British film based on Kipling’s TOOMAI OF THE ELEPHANTS. (One source says that Sabu was cleaning out the stables of a wealthy Indian maharajah when he was first spotted by Flaherty.) Impressed by Sabu’s earnest looks, engaging naturalness and the ease with which he worked around elephants, Flaherty arranged for the 12-year old to be taken to England, where he was placed under an exclusive contract with British movie mogul Alexander Korda. Released in 1937 ELEPHANT BOY was a major hit and established Sabu as an up-and-coming young star.