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soc.culture.thai Culture FAQ
Section - C.2) Full name of Bangkok

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According to the Committee for Rattanakosin Bicentennial Celebration
to Commemorate the Rattanakosin Bicentennial who author the book,
Phra^ma^haa+ka'sad' nay-phra^bOO-rom-chak'krii-wong-
SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP, the English title as given by the authors
themselves, after King Rama I, took throne on April 6, 1782, his first
task was to find the new site for the capital city. He didn't not want
to continue using Thon-bu'rii- as the capital citing the fact that as
the wall of the city was on jaaw"phra^yaa- River which could be hard
to defend in time of war. Besides, Thon-bu'rii- was in the bottom of
the River's curve and the land on its bank eroded. The palace itself
was constrainted by two wats: wat^a'run- and wat^thaay^ta'laad'. He
believed the other side of the River was better as the city would be
situated on the top of the curve. The River itself could serve as a
natural kuu-muang- on the western side. On the eastern side, a
kuu-muang- (man-made water reservoir created to protect the enemy)
could be easily dug.

The site was at the time occupied by the Chinese who then were
relocated to the new site between Kloong-wat^saam+plUm" and
Kloong-wat^sam+pheng-. On Sunday of the sixth month, khUn"sip'kam"
(the 10th day of the rising moon period), at 15 minutes after
midnight, the City's pillar was erected. The date is translated to the
western calendar as April 21, 1782.

The new city was named by King Rama I as:

   "...Krung-theb^ma"haa+na"kOOn- bOO-wOOn-rat"ta'na"ko-sin+
   ma"hin+tha"raa-yut^tha^yaa- ma"haa+di'lok'pob^
   u'dom-raat"cha^ni^weet^ma"haa+sa'thaan+ a'mOOn-maan-a'wa^taan-sa'thid'

King Rama IV (Kung Mongkut) had the term bOO-wOON- changed to a'mOOn-
as the name now appears.

King Rama I ordered a canal to be dug connecting to the River at
Baang-lam-phuu- on the northern side and at wat^saam+plUm" on the
southern side. Then wall was built along the canal inner side for more
than 7 kilometers. Along this wall, there were 14 forts.

Within this wall, the Grand Palace was constructed. There were many
halls and a wat, wat^phra^sii+rad"ta'na^saad'sa'daa-raam- (wat
phra^kAAw"). The palace was cosmologically designed to be the center
of the new city. From the name one could see the term a'yut^tha^yaa-
which was from, as was that of krung-sii-a'yud^tha^yaa-, the former
capital, the legendary a'yoo-tha^yaa- where the Rama was born, as
appeared in the Ramayana (or Raam-ma"kian- ...its Thai version).

The canal is actually two klongs attached to each other in the inland
at pOOm^phra^kaan- (phra^kaan- Fort). The northern one is
klOOng-baang-lam-phuu- and the southern one is klOOng-ong'aang'.
(ibid, pp. 20-27)

Speaking about the cosmology of Thai kingship, Tambiah, a Harvard
anthropologist, writes a book in which the term "galactic polity" is
used to typify the nature of Thai kingship. The king was concieved as
the reincarnation of Naa-raay- or Phra^raam- whose duty was to get rid
of the evils. The god stays at the top of phra^su'mee-ru". No wonder,
the roof of the palace halls often are in mountain-liked shape (with
its pointy top). The throns where the king sits is typically
characterized by legendary domains, namely oceans (naa-kaa-...big
snake), forest (singha...big lion) and sky (krut".. or garuda as
called by Indonesian...the half-man-half-bird being). The su'mee-ru"
is surrounded by seven oceans, the Himmapan, and high up in the sky.
These mythical animals also appears in the royal river procession

Thai kingship is regarded as tham-ma^raa-chaa- as compared to
thee-wa^raa- chaa- of Khmer. However, architects of the kingship have
not been reluctant to add elements that draw the institution closer to
the thee-wa^raa-chaa-. For those who are not familiar with these
terms, please note that the former one is referred to the system that
the king is to balance between being the warrior and the religious
figure. The latter is closer to the Brahminism as the king belong to
ka'sat' caste and the Brahm belong the the Brahm caste.

The ambition to compromise between the warrior (who kills, and hungers
for power) and the religious being (who does not kill and less
attached to the worldly materials) is not an easy job. The attempt is
seen in symbolic form. The King could be regarded as
phra^buddha'chaaw"luang+ (King Rama V).

At the end of Sukhothai period, the kings leaned toward the notion of
tham-ma^raa-chaa-. One of the kings even had his named representing
the idea, e.g. phra^tham-ma^raa-chaa-li"thay-. Tambiah argues that
unlike thee-wa^raa-chaa-, the tham-ma^raa-chaa- tends to be weak and
will finally lost the interest in conquering the world.

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