Buddha: " Whenever you see things, just see. Whenever you listen, just listen. Whenever you know, just know."
Suan Pakkad Palace, Sri Ayudhya, Phaya Thai, Bangkok - Cabbage Patch Palace, Bangkok
'Suan Pakkad' means a cabbage garden. This was precisely what the land, which is now the site of the palace, had been before it became the residence of Prince Chumbhot Paribatra of Nagor Svarga, a grandson of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), and his consort, M.R. Pantip Paribatra, or Princess Chumbhot Paribatra of Nagor Svarga.
The architectural centrepiece of the Palace, the group of traditional Thai houses, (houses 1-4) located between the front of the Parlance and the main garden, is a family heirloom, dating from the 19th century. Taken apart and transported from their former location, these houses were reconstructed on the grounds of the Palace in 1952 and used as both a reception hall and a place to display the Prince and Princess' beautiful and extensive collection of artifacts. These were partly acquired by the Prince and his consort themselves. Soon after, the collection was made available for public viewing and later became a fully-fledged museum.
This was probably the first instance of a Thai family's opening up of their home to the public in this manner while still living in the place. Underlying he genesis of Suan Pakkad Palace Museum was the rationale that, while rare, or indeed sometimes unique, artifacts can be in private possession, they constitute a heritage of mankind and should be made accessible to all those wishing to see them.
Over the years more traditional Thai architectural structures have been added to the original four houses. These include houses 5-8 located on the west side of the property, and the Lacquer Pavilion, standing in the main garden to the south of the compound. The Chumbhot-Pantip Centre of Arts was built in 1996 to house the Museum's unique Banchiang collection and the Marsi Gallery.
Suan Pakkad Palace Museum is now owned and operated by the Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation. One of the largest philanthropic organisations in Thailand. The foundation was set up in 1968 and is now very active in a number of fields including education, conservation, art and culture.
Banchiang are displayed on the second floor of the Chumbhot-Pantip Centre of Arts building. The Museum's collection of these prehistoric artifacts is perhaps the best and the best known in the world, and ha greatly helped to enhance the knowledge and understanding of this cultural heritage. The collection includes painted pottery, cord-marked pottery, bronze weapons and tools, as well as bronze, precious stone and glass bead ornaments.
On the ground floor is the Prince Paribatra Music Room, displaying musical instruments which belonged to Prince Chumbhit's father. Prince Paribatra is considered one of the greatest music composers in Thai history. Particularly rare are the drums, xylophones, gongs and three-stringed fiddles.
The upper level of the house contains an eclectic collection of artifacts from many different periods of Thai and Southeast Asian history, including Buddha images and standing stone torsos of Uma and Ardhanarisvara.
On the ground floor there is a special exhibition room displaying Princess Chumbhot's extensive, and in some cases now very rare and valuable, collection of rocks and minerals. She named it 'The Cave of Ali Baba'. She was very well known for her sense of humour.
The upper level of house 2 also displays an eclectic collection of artifacts. This ranges from a howdah, book cabinets painted in gold on black lacquer, and other traditional Thai furniture, to beautiful items for personal use such as food containers and trays inlaid with mother-of-pearl and ivory boxes for lip-salve. Of great interest are the fans used by Buddhist monks when chanting prayers. The collection is a very fine one.
The upper level displays very fine pentachromatic porcelain, called Benchgarong, made in China but decorated with Thai designs, gold and silver nielloware pieces, and several Thai and European drawings from the late 17th century. In the middle of the room stands an old Buddhist scroll. Also there are a model Thai throne (Busabok) and a palanquin and an umbrella, which are formal insignia of a very highly-ranked prince.
House 4 was, and still is occasionally, used for receptions and dinners. The only room in this house is a private chapel containing a very fine collection of Buddha images from different periods of Thai history. There are also beautiful paintings on cloth depicting the Lord Buddha and a very rare panel of mother-of-pearl inlaid work in the late Aydhya style.
On the upper level, house 5 also contains a display of prehistoric Banchiang artifacts. more rocks and minerals, as well as a collection of shells and fossil fish, are displayed on the ground floor.
This building houses the Khon Museum. Khon is a masked dance, telling stories from the Ramayana and Indian epic.
The collection displays several art forms related to the traditional dance, ranging from full-sized masks of the main heroes and villains in these stories, to puppets, clay figurines and a model battle.
The highlights of the collection in house 7 are prehistoric artifacts from Kanchanaburi Province and Sawankaloke ware (celedon). There are also ceramic wares (Chinese dating from the Sung, Yuan and Ming periods and Thai from the 14th and 15th centuries), green glazed friezes from a Burmese temple, Khmer pottery and terracotta from Chiangrai's famous Wiang Kalong kiln.
House 8 displays beautiful household items, especially the crystal glassware, silverware and porcelain that belonged to Prince Pstibatra and Prince Chuymbhot.
The Marsi Gallery
The marsi Gallery is on the second floor of the Chumbhot-Pantip Centre of Arts. It is named after Princess Marsi Paribatra, the only daughter of Prince and Princess Chumbbhot, who is a famous and talented artist in her own right. Her paintings re displayed in the entrance hall of the Museum. The Gallery holds exhibitions by contemporary artists 7-8 times a year.
Royal Barge named 'Kao Kung Bayam'
The barge belonged to Prince Chumbhot's father. Prince Paribatra traveled on this barge in royal river processions of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). It's body is made of odorata hopea wood, the roof and cabin of teak.
The lacquer pavilion
Dating from the later Ayutthaya period, perhaps the 17th century, the Lacquer Pavilion was previously located at a temple near the City of Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River. Acquired with the abbot's permission and in a state of great disrepair, it was brought to Suan Pakkad Palace and restored in 1959 as the Prince's 50th birthday present to the Princess. He never lived to see the completion of the restoration process. But he left as part of his heritage a magnificent treasure of Thai architectural achievement. Inside the Pavilion, equally magnificent mural paintings, with gold on black lacquer, depict the Life of Lord Buddha and stories from the Ramayana, the Indian epic.
Open daily 0900 - 1600
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