Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society on 30 August at 7.30 pm
The Protuket: the Thai-Portuguese Catholic Community, From Ayutthaya to Bangkok. A Talk by Miguel Castelo-Branco
The Portuguese are acknowledged as pioneers of Western relations with the Kingdom of Siam, dating back to the early years of the 16th century. The diplomatic alliance began in 1511, when Portugal sent a delegation to Siam during the reign of Rama Thibodi II, who ruled as King of Ayutthaya from 1491 to 1529. The Treaty of Friendship and Commerce, signed in 1518, is taken as the auspicious beginning for this alliance, which this year has been marked by numerous celebrations in both countries, attesting to 500 years of enduring friendship.
After the 1767 sacking of Ayutthaya, King Rama II (of the Rattanakosin period), facilitated the setting up of the first Portuguese consulate by granting land on the side of the Chao Phraya River. Over the centuries, relations between the two countries have grown in strength, particularly after King Chulalongkorn’s first visit to Portugal as part of his 1897 European tour.
Crucially, as well as allowing Portugal to set up a trading post in Ayutthaya, the 1518 Treaty also guaranteed religious freedom for the sizeable Portuguese community. Numerous Catholic churches in Bangkok attest to the legacy of Portuguese-Siamese relations and to the well-integrated nature of Portuguese descendants into Thai society.
Tonight’s lecture aims to offer a general understanding of what was, for over 300 years, a strategically fundamental group in balancing between Ayutthaya, Bangkok and the Western World.
More information here.
If anyone’s in Bangkok this Thursday (16 August), I’ll be giving a lecture at the Siam Society on the Invisible Paintings of Angkor Wat. I gave a similar lecture at the Asian Civilisations Museum earlier this year. The lecture begins at 7.30 pm.
In 2014, a paper published in the journal Antiquity revealed “invisible” paintings on the walls of Angkor Wat. These paintings, found throughout the temple, are mostly invisible to the naked eye. Some of the most indiscernible paintings are compositions of entire wall murals, apparently unfinished. This talk will reveal the invisible paintings of Angkor Wat, along with other historical graffiti found at the site. The post-Angkorian corpus of paintings and engravings present at the Angkor Wat illustrate a long history of occupation, reuse and conversion, shedding light on a common misconception that the temple was abandoned to the jungle before being “rediscovered” by the French and the Western world in the 18th century, and the transformation of Angkor Wat from a 12th century Hindu temple into a Buddhist stupa.
Source: The Invisible Paintings of Angkor Wat. A Talk by Noel H. Tan | The Siam Society
A lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 12 July.
Boxer Codex: A plan to invade Siam
A Talk by John Silva
The sumptuously illustrated 16th century Boxer Codex, with close to 100 images on rice paper featuring the people of the Pacific, Asia and Southeast Asia is the first known illustrated manuscript of the region.
The Orientalist Charles Boxer had acquired the manuscript in 1947 at an auction in England, and despite Boxer’s naming it as “Manila Manuscript” (its printing attributed to the Chinese-Filipino printer Keng Yong or Juan de Vera) his colleagues would name the codex after him.
Ever since the acquisition, no complete and modern transcription, editing and annotation of the whole manuscript was done until this new book printed by the Vibal Foundation of the Philippines in 2016 to commemorate the coming 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish on Philippine shores.
Philippine historian Carlos Quirino in the 1950’s worked on the Philippine section of the Codex and for Filipinos, accompanying images of Filipino tribes, richly adorned in gold changed local perceptions of pre-Spanish past and instead, instilled pride and identification.
But it is the complete transcription, Massachusetts. He is an author and contributor to various Philippine and international translation and annotation of this publication written in the modern understandable style, covering the chosen kingdoms, groupings and tribes of Asia, plus two very important end letters attached and addressed to the then Spanish King Philip II which draws our attention and is the subject of this talk.
The finery drawn showed native wealth, the treasures that abound, the descriptions of fortifications and sailing routes, the local conflicts, all lead up to the end letters (from the Portuguese Bishop of Malacca and the Spanish Governor General of Manila) urging King Philip to invade Siam and, from there complete the conquest of neighboring kingdoms including China and Japan. In addition, Manila would become the Vice-Royalty for Spain in the east to administer the conquered areas.
Several events scuttled the conquest plans and the Boxer Codex is appreciated today as a late 16th century pristine manuscript capturing a visual and literary slice of life of the peoples of Asia.
Mr. John L. Silva is the Executive Director of the Ortigas Library in the Philippines. The private Library has extensive rare books, maps, prints, and vintage photographs of the Philippines and is open to the general public. Mr. Silva received his M.A. in Philippine-American Studies from Goddard Cambridge in publications.
Source: The Siam Society
Exhibition of Rare Books at The Siam Society from the collections of Prince Prisdang and Mom Luang Manich Jumsai
27 June – 26 July 2018
The opening of the 3rd exhibition of old and rare books from Prince Prisdang and Mom Luang Manich Jumsai’s collection will take place on 27th June at 5.30 pm. These books are on permanent loan to the Siam Society by Dr. Sumet and his family.
This exhibition will include books on Siam published between 1900 and 1950 (Rama V – IX). Altogether over sixty titles have been selected for this exhibition. The books are in English, French, German and Dutch. Exciting and classic titles like “The Land of the White elephant”, “Mission Pavie Indo-Chine” and “A Half Century Among the Siamese and the Laos”, will be of great interest to book lovers of Asia-Pacific history and travel. We owe much to the adventurous travelers and writers who took a keen interest in the far away land so that we can understand what Siam used to be like at the turn of the last century.
The Rare Books Exhibition will be on view from 28 June – 26 July (except Sunday and Monday) from 10 am – 5 pm.
Source: The Siam Society
If you’re in Bangkok this week, SEAMEO SPAFA and Siam Society are having the annual Capital’s Archaeology Lectures on Wednesday, 23 May 2018 at 18.30 hrs. This year, the talks focus on the archaeology and urban heritage of Bangkok. (Disclosure: I work for SEAMEO SPAFA, and this lecture series is an event I am organising).
The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) and the Siam Society will organize two lectures on the archaeology and urban conservation of Bangkok, as part of SEAMEO SPAFA’s lecture series on the archaeology of the Capitals of Southeast Asia.
- Archaeology in Bangkok
Bangkok was found in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty. Nevertheless, historical records and archaeological evidences indicate the dynamic of settlement patterns through time from Ayutthaya period to present (ca. 800 years ago). Nowadays, Bangkok has been changed rapidly through the urban expansion and infrastructure developments. Archaeological studies in Bangkok have started systematically in the past 25 years. All of the archaeological excavations were considered as rescue/salvage archaeology or salvage of archaeological evidence before the archaeological sites were destroyed in order to develop, conserve, or improve knowledge regarding historic activities at these sites. There are more than 30 archaeological excavation sites, which are layered under dense infrastructure. Archaeological excavation project work closely with infrastructure development projects such as the mass rapid transit projects. Very tangible ruins and artefacts were revealed through a systematic excavation. The excavation of Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital is the best example of archaeology in Bangkok, which was conducted while digging to prepare the base construction of a new medical building in 2008. Many artefacts including the remains of wooden boat and ancient city wall were found. Therefore, an archaeological study was conducted in this area for this purpose.
Dr Kannika Suteerattanapirom is archaeologist and assistant professor of the faculty of archaeology, Silpakorn university in Bangkok, Thailand. Her ongoing research focuses on urban archaeology in Bangkok. She has undertaken numerous archaeological excavation projects in Bangkok. Her current research project entitled ‘state of knowledge of Bangkok archaeology: information, direction and plan of conservation and development in the future’.
- Rattanakosin: Urban heritage of Bangkok
“Rattanakosin Island” is the origin of Bangkok metropolitan area. Urban permanence falls under two criteria: tangible permanences, mostly old buildings inventoried as historic monuments, and intangible permanences, ancient urban features that remain in the city today in the form of activities and functions. The Chao Phraya River is the major structuring element of the city since its origin. The river and the three concentric boundary canals, dug successively, have limited and defined Rattanakosin Island, according to the traditional notions of Thai culture and in agreement with the former treaties on military art. The river and the three axes of urban expansion are the major permanence have guided the development of the city since the founding of Rattanakosin to the present metropolis. Today the construction of the road network has lessened the importance of water in the city and led to the disappearance of traditional urban features such as floating markets and clusters of houseboats, but the activity related to the river remains intense.
Dr. Pornthum Thumwimol is a Landscape Architect of the Fine Arts Department in the Ministry of Culture, Thailand. He received his Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Paris VIII and the Research Institute for Architecture (IPRAUS) in Paris, a Pre-doctorate (DEA) in the Philosophy of Landscape architecture and Master degree in Architecture and Urban Planning, Architecture School of Paris de la Villette, Paris, France and a Bachelor of Landscape architecture from Chulalongkorn University. He has engaged in a wide range of design and planning projects, both in architecture and landscape architecture and received numerous prestigious awards, including The Association of Siamese Architects (ASA) Excellence and Honour Awards for the design of Panumrung information centre (1992). He is involved in the establishment of cultural landscape studies in Thailand and has been a writer and co-editor for several books and articles.
Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk by Dr Surat Lertlum on 18 January 2018:
Since 2005, Thai and Khmer scholars have conducted research utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches, including archaeology, anthropology, geo-informatics, geo-physics and information technology, with the continued and generous support of the Thailand Research Fund (TRF). At the outset, the study focused on the royal roads from Angkor. The work of the international team has benefited from the results of remote sensing surveys, which have significantly helped the systematic ground trusting conducted during several campaigns in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. The team, consisting of experts from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, subsequently expanded the scope of its study to identify the cultural relationships involving Mainland Southeast Asia, based on ancient communication networks. This presentation will be centered on the cross-border, multi-disciplinary research on ancient communication networks in Mainland Southeast Asia, aimed at identifying all the remaining sections of ancient roads and communication networks in the region. The discussion will extend to cities connected by ancient roads and trails, as well as waterways serving as communication networks, revealing physical evidence of cultures interconnected by a complex range of different communication systems and the common heritage that ensued from these ancient networks.
Common Heritage through Ancient Communication Networks in Mainland Southeast Asia. A Talk by Surat Lertlum
Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society by Trongjai Hutangkura on 31 August 2017.
The Geography, written in the second century CE by Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100 ce- c. 170 ce), described the Earth’s geography through knowledge from Greco-Roman trade routes. The map India beyond the Ganges presented geographical information stretching from the river’s east bank towards China. Although previous studies provided place-names based on cognate comparisons between Ptolemaic data and recent toponyms, the identification of the Ptolemaic eastern limit remains problematic, exemplified by a location known to the ancient Romans as Kattigara, possibly Hangzhou (China) or Óc Eo (Vietnam). My research raises the possibility of Kattigara being located in the vicinity of the Korea Bay, based on a comparison of geographical landmarks such as the river’s mouth and cape. Other possibilities may involve Suvarṇabhūmi and a town called Zabai (Óc Eo). Though geographic recognition of Ptolemaic toponyms has since disappeared, their graphic information is still acknowledged and carries some influence in Southeast Asia, including in maps compiled by European and Arab cartographers in the 12th-16th centuries. These maps are a blend of Ptolemaic place-names and navigational information of their ages, visualising an imaginary continent of Southeast Asia. My presentation will illustrate research on the identification of cartographic information of Ptolemy’s India beyond the Ganges and Chinese lands as the basis for the study of ancient Southeast Asian maps.
Source: A New Interpretation on the Eastern Limit of Ptolemy’s World Map and its Influence on European Worldview in the Evolution of Southeast Asian Mapping. A talk by Trongjai Hutangkura
If anyone’s in Bangkok next week (9 March), I’m giving an introductory talk about the rock art of Southeast Asia at the Siam Society. Hope to see you there, especially if you follow this site!
Rock Art: The Unseen Art of Southeast Asia. A Talk By Noel Hidalgo Tan
Source: Siam Society – Lecture
Another talk for readers in Bangkok – this one by Damian Evans on LiDAR in Angkor.
Using Airborne Laser Scanning to Uncover, Map and Analyse Ancient Landscapes in Cambodia & Beyond
A Talk by Dr. Damian Evans
Date: Thursday, 4 February 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: The Siam Society
Traditionally, scholarship on the Angkor period has focussed on three main areas: architecture, inscriptions and art history. In recent years however there has been increasing interest in the human and environmental context of the temples, and archaeologists are beginning to understand much more about the urban and
agricultural networks that stretched between and also far beyond the well-known monuments of places like Angkor. Even though the cities that surrounded the temples were made of wood, and the water management systems were mostly made of earth, we can still very clearly see and map the traces that remain on the surface of the landscape using remote sensing techniques such as aerial photos and satellite imagery. Until recently, however, archaeologists who focussed on the mapping methods faced one very serious limitation: the fact that vegetation covers much of the areas of interest, and limits our ability to see and map these ancient features. Since 2012 however archaeologists in Cambodia have been using the technique of airborne laser scanning or “lidar”, which has the unique ability to “see through” vegetation and map archaeological remains, even underneath thick forest or jungle. This presentation will outline past, present and future projects involving lidar, including presenting some preliminary results from the latest lidar campaign in 2015, which increased coverage from Angkor to include a wide array of sites across Cambodia, and discuss potential applications in other countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand.
Another lecture at the Siam Society, featuring the ancient jewelry of Myanmar.
Ancient Jewellery of Myanmar from Prehistory to Pyu Period
by Terence Tan
Venue: The Siam Society, Bangkok, Thailand
Date: 4 June 2015
This book traces the ornaments and artefacts, which brought about the changes in beliefs, rituals, social and cultural aspects of early Myanmar, from the prehistoric to the proto-historical period, and cultural links between China and Myanmar. Links between China and Myanmar are corroborated by bronze artefacts and stone beads from the Samon River Valley, the Bronze-Iron Transition culture that flourished c. 700 BCE-100 CE. Beads from the Samon are linked to the Western Zhou Dynasty of China (11th-8th century BCE). The tiger with cub in the mouth is an iconic artefact from this period. Although the Samon figurines are of different material, due to the wider availability of semi-precious stones in Myanmar, they bear stylistic affinities with the Chinese version.
Gradual changes in the Samon River Valley culture led to the Pyu Era (200 BCE-900 CE), a contemporary of Dvaravati (Thailand), Champa (Vietnam) and Funan (Cambodia). The Pyu were thus a bridge between the Bronze-Iron Transition Age and Myanmar’s early Buddhist period, one of the earliest Buddhist cultures of Southeast Asia. In addition to ancient ramparts and a few inscriptions, there is a wealth of excavated material, from Buddha effigies to golden plates, jewellery, coins and other moveable artefacts. This transition to the Buddhist period shifts the focus from China to India and links with the crossroads of East Asia, visible in the Pyu’s gold dice beads decorated with auspicious symbols and the main events in the Buddha’s life.