Precinct 333

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Challenge of National Myths, Part I

I love The King and I. I have ever since I was a teenager, when I was blessed to see Yul Brenner in the a revival of the play during the late 1970s. I became fascinated with that fascinating figure, King Mongkut/Rama IV.

As a prince, he is credited with the discovery of the three-foot tall stone obelisk known as "Inscription One". It allegedly dates to the reign of King Ramkhamkaeng. Now a British scholar, Michael Wright seeks to debunk that claim, alleging that the monument is, in fact, a forgery made at the command of Mongkut.

This has caused an uproar in Thailand, and there is talk of criminal charges being filed. Wright and Thai colleague Piriya Krairiksh, the director of the Centre for Thai Literary Studies at Thammasat University, have also been ritually cursed
Residents of Sukhothai gathered to protest at a statue of King Ramkhamkaeng amid the ruins of his capital. In imitation of a ceremony described in the inscription, they rang a bell to attract the king's attention and told him of their grievances. They then carried out a cursing ritual, burning chillies and salt and the names of the two men written on scraps of paper.

All-in-all, I would find that preferable to a Katie Couric interview.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.