วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 8 เมษายน พ.ศ. 2553
the Royal Plaza
OCTOBER 23 MARKS THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF KING CHULALONGKORN, ONE OF THE MOST REVERED MONARCHS IN THAI HISTORY. TO COMMEMORATE THIS OCCASION, THAI PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE GATHER AT THE ROYAL PLAZA IN BANGKOK TO PAY HOMAGE TO THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF KING CHU 1.-,LONGKORN, WHICH WAS ERECTED 100 YEARS AGO.
Looking back to November 11, 1908 at the Royal Plaza
in the Dusit Palace compound, we would see a majorgathering of numerous people, a grand procession of guards of honor, and a number of military officials and civil servants, as well as members of the diplomatic corps. They were waiting for an audience with King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, who was scheduled to unveil his equestrian statue, the first monument dedicated to a Thai king. The idea to build this statue came from the King himself, who ordered the casting of this statue in France during his first journey to Europe.
The statue depicts King Chulalongkorn in the army uniform mounted on a horse, which represented his position as Head of the Thai Armed Forces. This monument is a testimony to Thai people's loyalty and gratitude to the beloved King, who conducted reforms that brought Thailand into the modern age. It was built with a fund raised from public donations as an expression of the people's love for the King in celebration of the 'record reign', or the jubilee of the reign.
Today, the equestrian statue stands prominently at the Royal Plaza in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, which is topped with domes constructed in Western style 100 years ago. This memorial to King Chulalongkorn has been the scene of many historic events, such as the country's changes in administration, military coups, political rallies, and demands from groups of people for the Government to relieve their grievances. It has become a place where people look to for help in all periods of Thailand's modern history.
The equestrian statue was built in response to the wishes of the King, who wanted it to be erected on Benchamat Road in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. At that time, in 1907, the King was in France and appreciated the equestrian statue of Le Roi Soleil (Louise XIV) in front of Versailles Palace. He then ordered the casting of his equestrian statue modeled after that in Paris. Apart from the bronze statue, an ornamental pedestal on which the statue would rest was also designed and built.
Susse Fres Fondeurs Company, located in Paris, was entrusted with the construction project. On August 22, 1907.a French sculptor was granted royal permission to design the statue, with the King himself sitting as the model. The statue was later cast and sent to the company's workshop for the final touch of the whole structure. The pedestal consists of two bases, one made of marble and the other made of bronze. The marble and bronze bases were packed into a large box, which was shipped to Bangkok from France.
In 1908, King Chulalongkorn had the equestrian statue erected, and the construction of the pedestal began on August
15, 1908, after which the entire construction work was accelerated, so that it would be completed in time for the celebration of his record reign, or 'jubilee reign', in November 1908.
Made of bronze and referred to as the 'copper doll' in those days, the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn in Field Marshal's uniform stands six meters tall from the marble base, 2.5 meters wide and 5.5 meters long. The King's right hand onthe horseback holds a baton. His staff is found on the left hand holding the reins. The horse stands on the bronze base which is 25 centimeters thick and is placed on the marble base. The bronze base is 3.5 meters wide and 6.5 meters long, decorated with traditional designs. There are 10 metal posts in the four directions.
The statue compound is nine meters wide and 11 meters long, and four masts are found in the four corners. At the side of the pedestal to the right are French words 'C. MASSON SEU LP 1908' and G. Paupg Statuare. To the left is the name of the company, Susse Fres Fondeurs, Paris.
The front of the marble base has a statement engraved on a slab in praise of King Chulalongkorn, saying 'His Majesty is the beloved great and good king of the people'.
After the casting was completed, the company put the statue into a large wooden box and sent it to Bangkok through a German mail ship in 1908. Crown Prince Vajiravudh (later King Vajiravudh, Rama VI) drafted a program to present the statue to the King on October 4, 1908 and asked for royal permission to spend 200,000 baht on the celebrations of the record reign. The program was as follows:
On November 10, a chanting takes place- in late afternoon to celebrate the equestrian statue. The King proceeds to the major pavilion for the presentation of commemorative coins and medals. On November 11, offerings are sent to the congregation of monks who joined the chanting on November 10 at a temple in the morning. In the afternoon, the King appears at the pavilion and is invited to unveil the statue and present colors to various regiments. In the evening, a royal banquet is held for royalty, senior officials from upcountry, and military officers.
On November 12, a procession of motor cars, with the King's car leading the way, is arranged to launch the official opening of a bridge across Khlong Maha Nak in the afternoon. In the evening, a dinner is hosted by the King for royalty, representatives from foreign governments, and Thai officials,
On November 13, the King proceeds to the pavilion and a procession is arranged in his honor in the afternoon. A dinner is hosted by the King for officials, traders, and aristocrats.
The equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn is a token of Thai people's appreciation, gratitude, and love for the great monarch, who died on October 23, 1910 after a reign of 42 years. It is the origin of the name 'Piya Maharaj', literally meaning 'the beloved great king', who won the hearts of his subjects, as described on the slab at the statue.A ceremony to pay homage to the equestrian statue takes place on October 23 each year as a tribute to the King, who devoted himself to promoting the unity and contentment of his people, thus bringing progress and stability to the country as a whole.