sign in a cave in Laos

23 November 2017

New Liphistius spider L. priceae named after me

I am honoured to have a new species of Liphistius spider named after me in 2017. The trapdoor spider, Liphistius priceae sp. nov. has recently been described in a new paper, Revue suisse de Zoologie (September 2017) 124(2): 391-445, A revision of the trapdoor spider genus Liphistius (Mesothelae: Liphistiidae) in peninsular Malaysia; part 1, by Peter J. Schwendinger.

There are 5 species groups of Liphistius in peninsular Malaysia : the trang group, the malayanus-group, the batuensis-group, the tioman-group and the linang-group. L. priceae sp. nov. belongs to the linang-group.

The specimens were collected by Dr Peter Schwendinger. They are known only from two caves in the
same limestone hill at Dabong in Kelantan - Gua Keris and Gua Pagar. None were found in the associated rain forest so they may be confined to caves, although show no noteworthy cave adaptations.

Unfortunately there are no photo of the live specimens, only those in alcohol -

Extracts from the paper :

Malaysia, Kelantan, about 5 km
S of Dabong, Gua Keris (= Kris Cave) and Gua Pagar
(locally also called Gua King Kong), 130 m; 8.-9.
VI.2004; leg. P.J. Schwendinger. The precise type
locality is Gua Keris.

The new species is named in honour of
Liz Price (London, UK), a former long-time resident
in Kuala Lumpur, and a very active speleologist who
over 30 years explored and published on caves and cave
faunas all over Southeast Asia. She was also involved
in conservation and trying to save some caves from
destruction by quarrying in Malaysia.

Small to medium-sized, light-brown coloured
species, similar and closely related to
L. tempurung. Both sexes slightly smaller than those
of L. tempurung.

This is the second specimen to have been named after me. The first was a snail from Laos, called Sinoennea lizae

A big thank you to Peter Schwendinger for honouring me with this cave spider.


UPDATE Feb 2018

2 specimens of Liphistius priceae Schwendinger 2017 have been catalogued by the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt :

And NMBE catalogue

And a Wikipedia entry on L.priceae.

20 November 2017

Da Seng Ngan cave temple with blue haired Buddha

In 2014 I posted about the blue haired Buddha in cave temples around Ipoh, Perak. The main temple to have these Buddhas is Da Seng Ngan at Gunung Rapat. In Nov 2016 I went back to have another look.

Tokong Da Seng Ngan is next to Kwan Yin temple. There used to be access between the two but now it seems they have been separated off.

Da Seng Ngan is thought to have been established over 100 years ago but in 1974, the bund of a retention pond for tin mine tailings broke its banks. The resulting mud slide buried all the cave temples in this area at the foot of Gunung Rapat. Other temples were soon dug out, but Da Seng Ngan remained buried for 32 years. When the Ipoh Benevolent Society were building a second pond they came across the buried temple. The walls and facade of the temple were all intact. Artefacts found included copper statues of the Buddha, porcelain statues of Kuan Kong (God of War), urns, candleholders and chinaware.  The Star newspaper had several articles in March 2006.

Over the years the temple has developed with buildings and lots of new statues. There are now lots of these mass produced Buddhas by the car park.

I don't think much has changed inside the cave area. Although some of the Buddhas now have more decorative robes, such as this black haired Buddha -

Black haired Kwan Yin made of fake (?) wood -

And a group of different hair colours, white, blue and black -
Here the blue haired Buddha is holding a golden ball
and this one a blue ball
Note there is also a bald patch on top of the head!

The newer statues seem to look more feminine. I don't know if this is intentional or just the production.

Whilst in Ipoh we had a look at a couple of shops that sell temple paraphernalia and saw just a few blue hair statues -

Again I have tried to find the significance of the blue hair but there is very little info. Some sites suggest the blue is favoured by people in Tibet and Nepal, as those people favour the blue mineral  lapis lazuli. It reminds them of the azure sky in those high altitude regions, and it is said that the hair of their goddess had this colour. Both men and women wore it on their heads. And statues prepared in Tibet and the Himalayn kingdom of Nepal have their hair painted blue.

Other say lapis is the color of the principal Medicine Buddha, making this stone an important one in Buddhist mysticism. The Lapis Healing Master is one of the most honored figures in the Buddhist pantheon.

It is surprising why so few other temples feature this blue hair.

My 2014 blog on the blue hair Buddha

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

5 November 2017

Tham Phra Nang Nai, Railay, Krabi

This was only my second visit to Tham Phra Nang Nai at Railay, Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. Tham Phra Nang Nai is also known as Diamond Cave. Although some years ago it was called Inner Princess Cave, see my 2002 blog, where I wrote "A larger cave was discovered more recently. It is at the north end of Rai Leh Beach and is called Tham Phra Nang Nai (Inner Princess Cave). It used to be called Diamond Cave. The National Park authorities have lighted up the cave and built a concrete walkway for the convenience of visitors. There is an admission fee of 20 Baht (RM2). The generator is switched on every other half hour, or when visitors show up. There is a beautiful golden flowstone in the cave, as well as some stunning stalagmites and stalactites. This cave is rumoured to be the grand palace of the princess, whilst the other cave is her summer palace. The cliffs outside the cave offer more climbing routes. "

Now in 2017, admission is 100 Bt and the electricity is on all the time. And it looks as if they have reverted to Diamond Cave for the English name.

 The entrance -

The concrete walkway is a bit broken in places, but not too bad

A small colony of insect eating bats, maybe Hipposideros