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Rattanakosin ( Thai รัตนโกสินทร์ , from Sanskrit ratnakosindra , " Indra's jewel", pronunciation: [ráttàʔnáʔkoːsǐn] ) is the name of the original area of ​​the Siamese capital, newly founded in 1782, on the eastern bank of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya ( Chao Phraya River ), the historical center of today's Metropolis Bangkok . It is also called "Rattanakosin Island".

King Rama I and the Rattanakosin Island

The river bed of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya , as it flows through Bangkok today , was largely determined during the reign of King Chairacha of Ayutthaya (1534–1546). He had a khlong (canal) dug to shorten the trip from the Gulf of Thailand to the capital Ayutthaya through numerous bends in the river. The original course of the river can still be guessed today if one looks at the course of the Khlong Bangkok Yai and the Khlong Bangkok Noi to the west of today's main stream.

French engineers built forts on both sides of the river in 1675, but in the course of the fall of King Narais ("Siamese Revolution") in 1688 they had to withdraw from there. Remains of the fort on the Thonburi side can still be seen at the mouth of the Khlong Bangkok Yai. Where the fort stood on the eastern bank, King Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok ( Rama I ) founded the new capital of the Siamese Empire.

The inscription on a memorial in front of the present city administration of Bangkok tells about the foundation in 1782:

Lak Muang, city pillar of Bangkok

“When Phrabat Somdet Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Maharat [King Rama I] was appointed king, he decided to found a new capital on the right bank of the Chao Phraya River, as there were better opportunities for defense than on the western Thonburi -Page. He commissioned Phaya Thanmatikon and Phaya Wichitnawi to coordinate the construction work. On Sunday, the tenth day of the waxing moon in the year of the tiger, in the fourth year of the decade of Chulasakarat 1144, i.e. in the year 2325 of Buddhist chronology, in the morning at 6:54 a.m. there was a ceremony of the 'laying of the foundation stone' [setting the city pillar, Thai Lak Mueang ] carried out.

After the founding of the Grand Palace, Rama I was officially crowned king in a royal ceremony on June 10, 2325. This was celebrated extensively for three days. During the ceremony, the capital was solemnly baptized by the king in the name of Krung Rattanakosin In-Ayothaya after Phra Phuttha Maha Mani Rattana Patimongkon .

Later kings changed the name several times until the 'Krung Rattanakosin' finally got the current name: 'Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthrayutthaya Maha Dilokphop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Maha Sathan'an Amon Piman Awathan Sathit Sakkhattiya "

Historical map: Bangkok on Chao Phraya (around 1888)
General map of today's Rattanakosin Island

The motives for relocating the capital were probably strategic, practical and symbolic in nature. With its location on the eastern side of the river, the seat of government should be less vulnerable to attacks by the Burmese from the west. The wooden palace Taksins in Thonburi was also located on a relatively narrow strip between two temples, which prevented further expansion. For the founder of the new dynasty, the fact that he was free from the stigma of a usurper may also have spoken in favor of a new installation in a different location .

The eastern bank of the river was originally very swampy, so it had to be drained first. A narrow canal, the Khlong Lot ("straw canal") was dug for this purpose as early as the time of King Taksin . There, where the new palace was planned, already lived a community of wealthy Chinese merchants who probably supported Wat Potharam (today Wat Phra Chetuphon, or Wat Pho ) that already existed there . They now had to relocate their businesses to the "gardens", an area outside the city that was then uninhabited and is now known as Sampheng , the Bangkok "Chinese Quarter" along the Thanon Yaowarat in the Samphanthawong district . Then the first buildings of the new palace could be built. Later a high brick wall was added, which shielded the area of ​​today 250 hectares from the outside.

The destroyed palace of Ayutthaya served as a model for the new palace. The palace was planned so that the king never had to leave it. If he wanted to show himself to the people, he stepped onto a specially built balcony, which can still be seen today as part of the east wall. The palace contained an inner area , the Wang Nai . Here was the private residence of the king, his flower gardens and the villas of the queen and the Chao Chom (concubines of the king) with their children and female servants. As the “city of women”, the inner area fascinated foreign visitors until the early 20th century. The actual center of power of the Siamese Empire was in the outer area . The Prime Minister lived and lived here with his secretaries, the high court, the royal council, the royal guards, and even the royal artillery were based here. A separate area was created for the royal temple that was supposed to house the Emerald Buddha .

The main city role of the power centers in continental Southeast Asia in the pre-colonial period was often explained religiously and mythologically. Their position is predetermined by gods, saints or by a footprint of the Buddha . There were such legends about the founding of Ayutthaya. In order to inherit the religious legitimacy, power and fame of Ayutthaya, the new capital had to be a "new Ayutthaya", a copy of the old capital that was as true to the original as possible. Since Ayutthaya was surrounded by water all around, the king had another canal dug here in the east of the city, so that the capital was apparently also on an island, the Rattanakosin Island . This outer city moat or Khlong Rop Krung (literally: "Canal that surrounds the whole city") was dug as a defensive moat by 5,000 Laotian prisoners of war in 1783 and bordered with a thick, crenellated brick wall. (Remnants of this wall can still be seen today at the Phra Sumen Fort and opposite Wat Bowonniwet in Banglamphu.)

Many of the bricks used to build the wall and forts were brought down the river on barges from the ruined Ayutthaya . The trench was dug far enough to be able to offer the boat races so popular in Ayutthaya to the population. As a further defensive measure, the northeastern part of Rattanakosin Island was left as a swamp area. Fruit trees were later planted here, and only King Chulalongkorn had the wide boulevards built here around 1899, which were called Thanon Ratchadamnoen ("Street on which the King strolls") and which are still today the Grand Palace with the Dusit Palace planned as a garden city connects.

To the north of the Grand Palace was the Sanam Luang ( Royal Square ). The royal cremations took place here, and it was the scene of annual ceremonies such as the “First Plowing”, a Brahmin ceremony to assure the people of a good harvest.

The viceroy got his own palace built, the so-called "Front Palace" (Wang Na) , which is located north of Wat Mahathat, which also existed at the time of its foundation. He received his own temple building, Wat Buddhaisawan with the Phra Buddha Sihing, a bronze Buddha statue from the Sukhothai period. Today the National Museum is located in the Wang Na , and the renowned Thammasat University is located in the southern part .

King Rama I also repaired numerous temples suitable for his capital and founded new ones. At the beginning of his reign he decreed that the sacred images of the Buddha would be brought from the destroyed capital to Bangkok in order to create a dignified environment for them. According to ancient chronicles, Rama I had more than 1,250 statues brought to Bangkok from destroyed or dilapidated temples across the country and distributed them to various temples in his capital. Wat Potharam, the old temple that borders directly to the south of his palace, has been renovated and enlarged to restore Ayutthaya's old splendor. The renovation was carried out by 20,000 workers in 12 years, after which it was given the current name Wat Phra Chetuphon , but is still known by tourists under its old name as Wat Pho .

As the religious and geographical center of his capital, King Rama I had a great new temple built. The entire arrangement should be carried out "systematically, neatly and carefully, so that this temple becomes the dignified highlight of the whole country". The foundation stone of the new temple was laid on Monday, February 1st, 1807 on the site next to the Sao Ching Cha ("Great Swing"), which was also used for a Brahmin ceremony. The main Buddha statue was supposed to be an ancient statue that was originally located in the abandoned Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai. It was brought to the capital by boat and consecrated in the new temple in 1808. Then the temple got its name Wat Suthat Thepwararam . This name refers to the divine city of the god Indra in the Tavatimsa sky on the top of Mount Meru . The king died in 1809 without witnessing the completion of the temple.

Historical epoch and art style

Derived from the island or city of Rattanakosin, the historical epoch of Siam / Thailand under the Chakri dynasty from 1782 until today (or sometimes only until the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932) is called the Rattanakosin period. Likewise, the art style of the works of art that have been created since the founding of Bangkok in 1782 is called the Rattanakosin style. The Rattanakosin Museum shows the history of Bangkok and Thailand since 1782 and the development of culture and society during this time.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (Ed.): Traditional Literature of ASEAN. 2000, p. 236.
  2. ^ David K. Wyatt : Thailand. A short history. 2nd edition, Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2004, pp. 128–129.
  3. Maurizio Peleggi: Lords of Things. The Fashioning of the Siamese Monarchy's Modern Image. University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu 2002, pp. 77-78.
  4. ^ Marc Askew: Bangkok. Place, Practice and Representation. Routledge, London / New York 2002, p. 18.

Coordinates: 13 ° 44 ′ 57 ″  N , 100 ° 29 ′ 30 ″  E