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january 2009

Scene4 Magazine - January 2009 - Special Issue: "The One" - Kimg Chulalongkorn | Janine Yasovant

by Janine Yasovant

คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

In 1891, the kingdom of Siam was a small country governed by the Chakri dynasty. Chulalongkorn, was its king and he was called "Phra Piya Maharaj,". which means the beloved king. He was also a great writer.

Born on 20 September 1853, he was the son of the King Monkut, the progressive and visionary monarch who opened Siam to the world and who was the focus of Anna Leonowens' self-serving, self-indulging portrait, The King and I

In October 1868, as the young Prince Chulalongkorn assumed the throne of Siam, European superpowers sought new colonies throughout Asia. By 1908, England conquered India and Burma as well as the colonies in the south of Siam such as Galantan, Tranganu, Palis, Saiburi and Penang, the French dominated Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, whereas Indonesia was subdued by the Dutch. But Siam remained carefully balanced between the competing, predatory powers.

Monkut had achieved this delicate balance by studying European cuture and its arts and sciences. He purposefully educated his son and shaped him to become a preceptive and modern ruler to face the challenges of a changing and intrusive world.

As king, Chulalongkorn introduced that knowledge and technology to Siam. He traveled to Europe to experience and learn first hand. With his second jorney in 1896, he acquired and brought the train to Siam and completely modernized the country's transportation.

The changes wrought by this young, adventurous ruler were dramatic and far-reaching: healthcare, education, decentralized authority, the arts, and many other aspects of Siamese culture and everyday life.

During his life, King Chulalongkorn wrote and published many books including poetry, drama, a western-style cookbook, and his journals. Among the latter is perhaps the most famous and important journal of its time, still today, in Thailand: Klai Baan (Away from Home).


It was written as a journal to his daughter and was later published and became one of the most influential and precious historical documents in Siam and after the 1930's in Thailand.


Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2009 Janine Yasovant
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and a writer for Scene4.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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