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Lak Muang Bangkok's City Pillar

Bangkok City Spirits at Lak Muang

  • On the north-eastern corner opposite the Grand Palace walls and on the other side of the road is a shrine in which are the Bangkok city pillars. These are the abode of Phra Lak Muang the guardian spirit of Bangkok. Such city pillars are found elsewhere in South East Asia and in Thailand can be seen in most regional. The concept originates from India and stone versions can be found elsewhere in Cambodia. In Thailand they served as a political statement by the ruling classes. The meaning and function of City pillars in Thailand has changed over time.
  • The taller one is the original constructed and erected on orders of Rama I on April 1782 some 15 days after his coronation and commencement of work on construction of the new City of Bangkok.
  • The pillar symbolized the position of the new capital and contained a horoscope intended to ensure prosperity and success from future Burmese invasions. The shorter pillar was erected 71 years later under the reign of Rama IV.
  • The taller pillar of Rama I symbolized a position and housed a horoscope. In Rattanakosin periods the reference to Phra Lak Muang and other city guardian spirits appears in royal incantations. As a symbol of the Chakri Siam Empire other City pillars were also erected in strategic City centers away from Bangkok but demarcation of the extent of the Empire, such as at Songkhla in the South which oversaw the Malay vassal kingdoms, in Cambodia at Battambabg, Chanthathuri and Chachoengsao, Samut Prakan and elsewhere.
  • Under the reign of Rama IV, King Mongkut, the pillars took on a different symbolism. King Mongkut had the taller pillar removed and replaced with a new and smaller one which also contained a new horoscope for the City and which dealt with the problems of those times, not the threat of Burmese of Vietnamese invasions but the threat of European Colonialists. King Mongkut, also a former Buddhist monk also had the image of Phra Sayamthevathirat created and designated it as the supreme deity of the Kingdom of Siam. Thus having this new god, the role of Phra Lak Muang and other guardian spirits was less important. From here on the practice of building city pillars ceased as the Royal power was controlled by western styled systems of government and civil servants.

Ceiling Lak Muang Shrine Bangkok