Explore Mon heritage at Siam Society
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Explore Mon heritage at Siam Society

Explore Mon heritage at Siam Society
Mon language manuscripts at a temple. (Photo courtesy of Patrick McCormick)

Siam Society on Asok Road is holding a lecture titled "Recalling A Trans-Local Past: Thailand's Mon-language Manuscripts" on May 16 at 7pm.

It will be conducted by Patrick McCormick, a writer and academic researcher who has studied the languages and history of Myanmar where he lived for 16 years before moving to Thailand. He focused much of his time researching the Mon language and the writing of Mon history.

The Mon people are usually associated with Myanmar, yet it has never been the only place where Mon-speaking communities have lived. Large numbers of Mon language manuscripts are kept in the temples of the Thai-Mon community, living largely in the provinces surrounding Bangkok.

Among these collections are numerous texts unknown in Myanmar. The Thai-Mon community represents the remnants of a once trans-local past. Mon speakers in past decades and centuries crossed what we now consider an international border as they took part in the circulation of texts, ideas and cultural forms, and trade.

During the 20th century, the Thai state promoted a single past and identity. Over time, this project effectively cut the Thai Mon off from their language and intellectual traditions. Few Thai Mon are literate in Mon today, so that collections of texts, including religious teachings, literature, history, and astrology, languish unread and unvalued.

McCormick has traced the history of the Thai Mon communities through their intellectual, cultural, religious and intellectual traditions. The manuscripts still hold great value for the Mon community of Myanmar, which maintains an intellectual tradition in the language that is still very much alive.

He will present visuals from recent work in Thai Mon temples which illustrate aspects of digitising the manuscripts in hopes of encouraging others to become involved in preserving and promoting Thailand's manuscript heritage.

The fee is 300 baht (free for members and students). Email pinthip@thesiamsociety.org or call 02-661-6470--3 ext 203.

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