City Pillar


Lak mueang ( th, หลักเมือง) are city pillars found in most cities of Thailand. Usually housed in a
shrine A shrine ( la, scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern lan ...

( th, ศาลหลักเมือง) which is also believed to house Chao Pho Lak Mueang (), the city spirit deity. It was constructed because the continuation of ancient traditions and Brahman's customs believed that it has something to do with the Held, the single city pillar ceremony (Held “Lak Muang”) which is made of an
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of nam ...

wood Chaiyaphreuk ( th, ชัยพฤกษ์) before the construction of the city for a major goal to build a city and to be the centre of soul for the citizens. It was probably King
Rama I Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Maharaj (, 20 March 1737 – 7 September 1809), personal name Thongduang (), also known as Rama I, was the founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the first Monarchy of Thailand, monarch of the reigning Chakri dyna ...
who erected the first city pillar on 21 April 1782, when he moved his capital from
Thonburi __NOTOC__ Thonburi ( th, ธนบุรี) is an area of modern Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom ...

Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the ...

. The shrine was the first building in his new capital, the
palace A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to eit ...

and other buildings being constructed later.

Outside Bangkok

Shortly after the shrine in Bangkok, similar shrines were built in strategic provinces to symbolise central power, such as in Songkhla. More shrines were created during the reign of King
Buddha Loetla Nabhalai Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai ( th, พระพุทธเลิศหล้านภาลัย, 24 February 1767 – 21 July 1824), personal name Chim ( th, ฉิม), also styled as Rama II was the second monarch A monarch is a head of st ...
(Rama II) in Nakhon Khuen Khan and Samut Prakan, and by King
Nangklao Nangklao ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระนั่งเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว, ; 31 March 1788 – 2 April 1851), birth name Thap ( th, ทับ), also styled Rama III, was the third king of Siam ...
(Rama III) in Chachoengsao Province, Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi province, Chanthaburi, and Phra Tabong Province (now in Cambodia). However, after King Mongkut raised a new pillar in Bangkok, no further shrines in the provinces were built until 1944, when then-Prime Minister of Thailand Plaek Phibunsongkhram, Phibunsongkhram built a city pillar in Phetchabun Province, Phetchabun, as he intended to move the capital to this town. Though this plan failed to get approval by the parliament, the idea of city pillars caught on, and in the following years several provincial towns built new shrines. In 1992, the Ministry of Interior (Thailand), Ministry of Interior ordered that every province should have such a shrine. As of 2010, however, a few provinces still have no city pillar shrine. In Chonburi the shrine was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2011. The building style of the shrines varies. Especially in provinces with a significant Thai Chinese influence, the city pillar may be housed in a shrine that resembles a Chinese temple as, for example in Songkhla, Samut Prakan, and Yasothon. Chiang Rai's city pillar is not housed in a shrine at all; but, since 1988, is in an open place inside Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong; it is called the ''sadue mueang'' ( th, สะดือเมือง), 'navel' or 'omphalos' of the city. In Roi Et, the city pillar is housed in a Sala (Thai architecture), sala (open-air pavilion) on an island in the lake in the centre of the city.

The Bangkok city pillar shrine

Bangkok's city pillar shrine (also known as ''san lak muang'') is one of the most ancient, sacred, and magnificent city pillar shrines in Thailand. It was believed that people would achieve prosperity and fulfillment in their work and career, avoid misfortune, and improve their luck, power, and prestige if they took a bow and paid their respects at this sacred place. The shrine is in the heart of Bangkok, opposite the grand palace in the southeast corner of the Sanam Luang and close to the Ministry of Defence headquarters (Thailand), Ministry of Defence. According to a historian, the shrine was built after the establishment of the Rattanakosin Kingdom (Bangkok) to replace the old capital of the Thonburi Kingdom during the reign of King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty at 06:45, Sunday, 21 April 1782. It was constructed according to ancient traditions such as the brahmans' belief in the ''held'', the single city pillar ceremony (''held "lak muang"''), in which a pillar of acacia wood (''chaiyapreuk'') was erected before the effort of constructing the city began. It was intended to be the spiritual centre for Thai citizens. "Chaiyapreuk" (acacia) means "tree of victory". This wood was used by Thai locals to build a pillar high, buried deep, making a total height of , and in diameter. Inside was a horoscope for Bangkok. However, the shrine was renovated several times during the reigns of Kings Rama IV and Mongkut, and then became dilapidated. The king therefore ordered the excavation of the old pillar and construction of a replacement, with a new horoscope for the city placed inside. In 1852 the new pillar was installed, measuring tall, 47 centimetres (18.8 in) in diameter at the bottom, with a base wide. Both old and new pillars were moved to a refurbished pavilion with a spire (''prang'') modelled on the shrine of Ayutthaya (city), Ayudhya. The shrine was finished on Sunday, 1 May 1853. In 1980, in preparation for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Rattanakosin in 1982, the Bangkok city pillar shrine underwent renovation, including the addition of arches to house a five-city guardian deity. According to the ''In–Chan–Mun–Kong'' legend of the shrine, Thai locals believed that the construction of the shrine required the sacrifice of four people after the proclamation of the words ''"in–chan–mun–kong"'' all over the city (''"in"'' from the north, ''"chan"'' from the south, ''"mun"'' from the east, and ''"kong"'' from the west). Anyone who responded was captured, brought to the ceremonial location, and buried in a hole. Their spirits would guard and protect the city. This is only a myth and is not recorded in the chronicles. People usually use three incense sticks, one candle, gold foil, two lotuses, two flower garlands, and one three-colour taffeta to worship at the shrine.


File:SaDuMuangChiangRai.jpg, Sadu Mueang Chiang Rai File:Prachuap Khiri Khan City Pillar Shrine.jpg, Prachuap Khiri Khan City Pillar Shrine File:City pillar festival 02.jpg, Flowers are offered to the city pillar during the Inthakin Festival in Chiang Mai

See also

*Spirit house *Genius loci


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Further reading

* {{Tourist attractions in Bangkok Thai culture Cultural history of Thailand