The elephant represents a number of characteristics, but knowledge and strength are the most common. These two characteristics are recognized by believers of Hinduism and Buddhism, in which the elephant is the incarnation of the god Ganesh.
The elephant's association with knowledge derives from Ganesh's role as the patron of learning. Ganesh's head, an elephant, appears on many temples. Elephants have been noted for their strength throughout the history of Asia. They were utilized by many ancient armies across the continent as implements of war. The white elephant is of special significance, due to its rarity. In Thailand, all white elephants are the property of the king.