Bangkok’s Giant Swing

A curious artefact from one of the world’s more unusual religious ceremonies.

Rhys Griffiths | Published in 30 Mar 2016

In one of the world’s more curious religious ceremonies, Thai men swing from the 21-metre tall Giant Swing (Sao Chingcha) of Bangkok in 1919, attempting, incredibly, to grab a suspended bag of coins with their teeth. The ceremony, which followed the December rice harvest, took place annually for 150 years in celebration of an aspect of the Hindu creation story, with the swing’s pillars symbolising mountains and its circular base the earth. The swing was commissioned by King Rama I (1737–1809), founder of the Chakri dynasty, which still rules Thailand today. His swing has fared less well; the ceremony was discontinued in 1935 after a spate of deaths and today a reconstruction stands on a roundabout in front of the Buddhist temple, Wat Suthat.