Thai Treasure Divers Lose Out to Economic Growth

via NHK World, 07 November 2017: An interesting video story from NHK World about the underwater salvagers who operate in the Chao Phraya River that cuts through Bangkok.

Running through central Bangkok is the Chao Phraya River. On it is the city’s largest floating village, Mittakham. About 300 people live there. The community is estimated to be about 100 years old.

A development project means the community is scheduled to be torn down. Its residents are being forced to move from the river that’s given them their livelihoods for generations.

One of them is 53-year-old Jamroen Bua-Sri. Every day, he puts on a steel helmet and goes into the river to hunt for antiques and other treasures. He’s one of about 40 such divers. The river was a crucial trade route linking the ancient capital of Ayutthaya to China and other Asian countries, so it’s surprising what can turn up.

“My grandfather was a fisherman. One day, he found something in the river, and there were people who paid for it. So he began to search for lost treasures in the river,” says Jamroen. He has salvaged more than 10,000 items. He says this is an amulet from the early Ayutthaya Kingdom period that ended in the mid-1700s. Some artifacts retrieved by the divers have even gone into national museum collections.

Source: Thai Treasure Divers Lose Out to Economic Growth – Editor’s Picks – News – NHK WORLD – English

Chao Phraya River on heritage watch list

via Bangkok Post, 19 October 2017:

The Chao Phraya River has been enlisted in the 2018 World Monument Watch for cultural heritage sites that face daunting risks.

The river that runs through Thailand’s capital city is one of 25 sites placed under the 2018 watch list by World Monuments Fund (WMF), an independent agency devoted to saving the world’s treasured sites.

WMF on Sunday released its 2018 World Monuments Watch, consisting of a diverse group of cultural heritage sites spanning across 30 countries and territories, that face daunting threats ranging from human conflicts and urbanisation to natural disasters and climate change. The list also includes unique conservation opportunities.

Source: Chao Phraya on heritage watch list | Bangkok Post: news

Temple tantrums

via Bangkok Post, 02 October 2017:

From afar, the iconic stupas of the Temple of Dawn stand elegantly on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. But looking closely at the finer details of the famous landmark, admirers may notice a thick coat of lime plaster that almost covers decorative ceramic tiles. At some spots, ceramics are attached untidily to the central stupa, suggesting sloppy repair work.

The restoration of Wat Arun, as the Temple of Dawn is known, has stirred a heated debate among conservationists, archaeologists, historians and admirers of the historical edifice. The Fine Arts Department, which oversees the restoration, insists that the work has been carried out according to scholastic standards and historical accuracy. However, critics find the work sub-par and poorly supervised, resulting in the diminished grandeur of a national heritage site.

Source: Temple tantrums | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

Mahakan Fort found to be subsiding

via Bangkok Post, 24 August 2017: The Mahakorn Fort, which has recently been in the news because off attempts by the municipal government to evict the local community, is in the news again. This time, the fort structure itself appears to be tilting from old age.

Major repairs are planned for the ageing Mahakan Fort at the end of this year after city officials discovered during routine renovation that it is subsiding.

Source: Mahakan Fort found to be subsiding | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

Stupefied by stupa work

via Bangkok Post, 24 August 2017: An editorial about the Wat Arun restoration, that has drawn criticism of the Thai Fine Arts Department.

The public has been in uproar for more than a week over the restoration of stupas at the iconic Temple of Dawn, a national heritage and landmark tourist destination of the capital.

Source: Stupefied by stupa work | Bangkok Post: opinion

New Dawn or Letdown? Iconic Temple Makeover Gets Mixed Reviews (Photos)

via Khaosod English, 19 August 2017: Another discussion of the restoration of Wat Arun in Bangkok, which is receiving mixed reactions. The Fine Arts Department maintains it is following the established guidelines for the restoration of such work, but visitors today complain it is too white and bright than the grey tower they are used to seeing.

BANGKOK — Nopparat Petchchai has watched over the Temple of Dawn for over two decades. The 50-year-old security guard from Uttaradit province, who keeps a close eye on the throngs of mostly Western tourists, said he’s heard the years-long restoration effort of one of Thailand’s most iconic landmarks became controversial once the public got a […]

Source: New Dawn or Letdown? Iconic Temple Makeover Gets Mixed Reviews (Photos)

Fine Arts stands by Wat Arun stupa repair effort

via Bangkok Post, 17 August 2018: The Fine Arts Department of Thailand responds to online criticisms of the restoration work to the iconic Wat Arun in Bangkok.

The Fine Arts Department and the assistant abbot of the Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun deny claims the latest restoration of its iconic stupas have diminished the traditional beauty of the structures.

Source: Fine Arts stands by Wat Arun stupa repair effort | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

See also:

Bangkok’s old neighbourhoods reflects a cultural melting pot

Bangkok Post, 15 June 2017: A travel feature on the architectural sights of Bangkok’s Chinatown, which is close to 200 years old.

Bangkok is populated by many Thais of foreign descent, a majority being Chinese. Yaowarat and Talat Noi are among the city’s oldest Chinese communities. The area once boasted major ports and trading hubs, which also accommodated places of worship for Christians and Muslims in addition to temples and shrines for Buddhists of different sects.

Source: Cultural melting pot | Bangkok Post: travel

Honouring the father of Thai heritage conservation

Bangkok Post, 06 June 2017: The late Thai monarch, King Bhumipol Adulyadej is honoured in a special exhibition at the National Museum as the Father of Thai Heritage Conservation.

To commemorate Thai Heritage Conservation Day on April 2, the Fine Arts Department under the Ministry of Culture is hosting an exhibition titled “His Majesty The Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej: Father Of Thai Heritage Conservation” at Itsarawinitchai Throne Hall, the National Museum Bangkok, until Aug 27.

Source: Honouring the father of Thai heritage conservation | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

Join me at Pint of Science Thailand 15-17 May

If you’re in Bangkok next week, join the Pint of Science Festival which will be held for the first time in Thailand. Pint of Science brings science to the public by bringing researchers to the the pub. I have a spot on Tuesday, 16 May – the only archaeology presentation! Tickets are free, but registration is required and snacks are included.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Elephants: The unseen cave paintings of Southeast Asia
Noel Hidalgo Tan (SEAMEO SPAFA)

Step into the world of rock art – filled with carvings of gods, cave paintings and reminders of humankind’s long interaction with the landscape. Like the landscapes of Australia and South Africa, Southeast Asia is home to hundreds of rock art sites even as most of them are unknown or inaccessible. What have archaeologists learned about the past through these ancient images?!

Source: Pint of Science Thailand | Tuesday 16th May