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Bangkok Commemoration

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Address:15, Soi Ladphrao 43, Ladphrao Rd., Sam Sen Nok, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310 Thailand

Tel:+6629399553

Service day:Everyday, Service hours: 08:00-18:00

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Marking the birth of a city

A small museum reveals a lesser known part of Bangkok's history through commemorative memorabilia and collectibles

The Bangkok CommemorationMuseum.

As Bangkok will celebrate its 234th anniversary as the capital of Thailand on April 21 this year, the Bangkok Commemoration Museum is an interesting place for people to visit and learn more about this city besides palaces and temples. This private museum on Lat Phrao 43 is the brainchild of Jantakarn Khloisai, who has a keen interest in everything which marked the 100th, 150th and 200th anniversaries of Bangkok.

"It all began with my passion for the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Bangkok which were held throughout 1982. I attended almost all of the events and started collecting memorabilia when I was a student. When I grew up, I still loved to read and learn more about big celebrations for the 100th and 150th anniversaries of Bangkok which are not taught in schools," the director of the seven-year-old museum said.

According to her, King Rama I established Bangkok in 1782, but merit-making activities and celebrations took place in 1785 when King Rama I completed his three-year mission to build the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and other landmarks. During the reign of King Rama V, Bangkok turned 100 in 1882 and there were celebrations because it had not been easy for Siam to survive the threats of French and British colonisation. Activities included repairing the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, issuing the temple restoration commemorative coins and organising the "National Exhibition" to showcase the Kingdom's outstanding goods at Sanam Luang.

Old photos show bamboo arches at the celebrations at Sanam Luang while some chronicles mention the king's presentation of commemorative medals called Rian Satapatmala to those who had helped organise the exhibition. Rian Satapatmala were made of gold, silver, bronze, gold-coated bronze and silver-coated bronze, depicting the faces of King Rama I to King Rama V. It was the first of its kind to show the faces of these five monarchs.

In addition, King Rama V granted commemorative medals to participants in the restoration of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Depicting the portrait of King Rama V on the front and the drawing of the temple on the back, the medals, 71mm in diameter, were made of silver.

That king also gave the "Dusadeemala" medals to royals, senior officials and people with outstanding work performance. Designed by the great royal artist Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, the medals were also called rian song yindee for bearing the words, song yindee (royally delighted). They depict the face and name of King Rama V on the front, and the statue of Phra Siam Devathiraj, a guardian spirit who protects Bangkok, and Pali words about the king's happiness as well as the unity of the people, on the back.

"No textbooks mention any of those things, so we did not know the celebration was a great one. Actually, even a newspaper in London reported that King Rama V had placed an order for the commemorative medals [Rian Satapatmala] from a company [Benson Company] in England," Jantakarn noted.

She added that each of these memorabilia pieces and some old photos are shown at her museum and they reflect the great importance of the 100th anniversary of Bangkok, where all the royals worked together to organise the celebrations.

Later in the reign of King Rama VII, Bangkok turned 150 in 1932. Amid economic hardship, a national committee agreed to the construction of the Memorial Bridge across the Chao Phraya River and a statue of King Rama I in order to create a useful monument in his honour.

A Satapatmala medal, issued during the reign of King Rama V.

According to Jantakarn, the Memorial Bridge which connects Bangkok and Thon Buri was famous for being the first modern steel drawbridge in Asia which could be pulled up to allow ships to pass. The king gave commemorative medals to donors.

In addition, the general public raised funds to mend the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Sa-ard Sirisambhand, a goldsmith, was granted royal permission to make medals featuring the faces of King Rama I to King Rama VII for sale to the public for fundraising.

Also in 1932, King Rama VII presented praying fans to monks who performed the religious ceremony to commemorate the restoration of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

According to the museum director, when Bangkok was about to turn 200 in 1982, a contest was held to find the best logo for the celebrations. Many people are still familiar with the winning logo featuring two Devas (Thai angels) showing respect for a royal pavilion, which can be seen on many souvenirs.

"I want people to know about all these good things and correct some misunderstandings. For instance, some children misunderstand that the Memorial Bridge was built in the reign of King Rama I," Jantakarn said. "In 16 years, Bangkok will celebrate its 250th anniversary. We want to educate the public about proper ways to celebrate and let the new generation know that our country has long been civilised."


The Bangkok Commemoration Museum is open upon request. Admission is free. Visit www.bangkokmuseum.org or email bangkokmuseum@hotmail.com for reservations and information.

A Temple of the Emerald Buddha Restoration Commemorative medal, issued during the reign of King Rama V.

One of the praying fans presented by King Rama VII to monks at the religious ceremony to mark the restoration of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in 1932.

A Temple of the Emerald Buddha Restoration Commemorative medal issued in 1932.

Piggy banks marking the 200th anniversary of Bangkok.

Jantakarn Khloisai, director of the Bangkok Commemoration Museum.

Location

15, Soi Ladphrao 43, Ladphrao Rd., Sam Sen Nok, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310 Thailand

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