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Doi Din Daeng (Red Clay Hill)

Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak shrine

Doi Din Daeng (Red Clay Hill)

Going potty in the rice fields

Staff Reporters

With the roads north of Chiang Mai getting better and better, it is fun to go for a drive in the country again and before you realize it, you have passed Chiang Rai.

Some beautiful large pots.

The area is extremely rural and the calmness and green of the rice fields is overwhelming. Was it just a little over two hours ago that we were stuck in the busy smoky traffic of Chiang Mai?

A sign beckons, promising Doi Din Daeng Pottery and despite the cries of the male driver, “Not another pottery! We do not need any more coffee mugs for three lifetimes!” But as the scenery seems to have a calming effect on us all, we follow the sign 12 km north of Chiang Rai and enter the manufacturing site.

A rice farmer in his field. Feel the tranquility and the calming green of the fields.

Manufacturing site? Not quite as you might be used to, but some old farmhouses surrounded by trees, and without loud machinery. Very different from the ones we see in Lampang. This one is a peaceful oasis with villagers sitting on small stools, kneading clay in the traditional manner.

Can you feel the serenity, the tranquility, and the quietness?

For the potters of Doi Din Daeng, every piece is a work of art. The clay is thrown by hand on to the potter’s wheel, either electric or hand rotated. The semi-finished pieces are air-dried and then fired and glazed. The glazes are all natural from rice stalks, wood, leaves, bamboo or other locally obtained vegetation which is burned in the huge oven for about 15 hours between 1250-1280 degrees Celsius.

Ashes and stones are used to make contemporary Asian-style decorative items.

The pieces which leave the oven destined for the showroom are art pieces of stoneware, reflecting contemporary Asian lifestyle, combining an earthen pottery look with fresh new forms and design.

If you would like to see more of the Red Clay Hill’s designs, check around the small art shops in Soi Nimmanhaemin or even better, use your next free afternoon and go for that drive in the country.

The showroom is full of stoneware products, both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Every piece is unique.

They come in all sizes, in all shapes and what is done during a particular day is decided by ‘feeling’.

The huge oven where the pieces are fired and on opening, there is the moment of truth. Enjoyment or disappointment?

What will be produced today? Mugs or vases may be?

Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak shrine

Complete with torpedoes

Nopniwat Krailerg

Many residents of Chiang Mai do not know that there is a shrine to Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak, the famous Thai prince and naval commander, in Mae Rim district, not far from the city of Chiang Mai.

Statue of Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak at the shrine.

There are around 200 shrines to Krom Luang Chumporn all over the country; however, the one in Mae Rim is unique. Apart from a life-size statue of Krom Luang Chumporn, there are some interesting embellishments to the shrine - weapons previously used by the Royal Thai Navy during the war, including two huge torpedoes (Model 45 Jor) weighing 649 kilograms each.

Torpedoes of this type were attached to the warships Tak, Phuket and Pattani. Other ex WWII items include explosive mines, shells and anchors.

A naval missile.

Merit-making ceremonies are held twice a year at the shrine, the first on his birthday (May 19) and the second on the day of his death (December 19).

The shrine is situated on Chotana Road connecting Chiang Mai and Mae Rim. It is about 19 kilometers from Chiang Mai and around 200 meters down Soi Wat Phrathat Jom Taeng, opposite Ban Pong Tambon Administration Organization office.

Floating explosive ocean mine.

The history of this shrine goes back to 1966, when serving and former naval officers and soldiers residing in the North, held a reunion. They organized a “Navy Day”, which would subsequently be held every year. In 1973 they established the “Northern Naval Club” with an aim to raise funds for a statue of Krom Luang Chumporn for naval people to pay respect. It would also serve to enhance the reputation of His Royal Highness and of the Royal Thai Navy.

Artillery used by Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak during naval operations.

On August 17, 1980, a ceremony was held to pour liquid gold into a mould for the life-size statue at the premises of the Sadej Phor Krom Luang Chumporn Foundation located in Wat Ruag on Charunsnitwong Road, Bangkok. The ceremony was presided over by Admiral Sa-ngad Chaloryou, then Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy.

Used artillery ammunition on display.

On June 20, 1986, the statue was moved to a temporary shrine in the compound of Wat Phrathat Jom Taeng in Mae Rim district while the permanent shrine was under construction. By courtesy of the Buddhist monks and the temple committee of Wat Phrathat Jom Taeng, the club was allowed to build the permanent shrine on five rai inside the temple.

When the permanent shrine was completed, the statue of Krom Luang was moved again on November 20, 1988 to be installed there. The opening ceremony took place on December 19, 1988, presided over by Admiral Kasem Mekloy, Royal Thai Navy Commander in Chief. The Naval Ordnance Department and Naval Hydrographic Department donated the torpedoes and cannons for decorating the shrine.

Admiral H.R.H. Prince Chumporn Khet Udomsak was born in the royal palace on December 19, 1880, to H.M. King Rama V (his 28th son) and his concubine, Moad (her first son). Moad was a daughter of Chao Phraya Surawongwaiwat (Wora Bunnag), holding the title of Phra Samuha Kalahom (in charge of the Defense Ministry) at the time.

The original name of H.R.H. Prince Chumporn was Phra Ong Chao Aabhakorn Kiettiwong. In 1893, at the age of 13, H.M. King Rama V allowed him to accompany the next King (Rama VI who was called Somdej Phrachao Lukya Ther Chao Fa Maha Wachirawut at that time) to further his education in England. After tutorial courses, he entered the British Royal Navy Academy and College and studied there for six years.

Upon the completion of his education in England, Admiral H.R.H. Krom Luang Chumporn Khet Udomsak returned to Thailand in 1900 and was assigned as Flag Lieutenant in the Royal Thai Navy in which he served until 1923, when he was named Minister of the Royal Thai Navy.

Unfortunately, his poor health forced him to leave this position. He retired to Haad Sai Ree beach, Pak Nam Chumporn (Chumporn Estuary), where he died of influenza on May 19, 1923, at the age of 44.

The Jane Talay Warship was commissioned to return his body to the palace, and he was cremated in a ceremony arranged under the courtesy of H.M. King Rama VI at the Royal Cremation Field (Sanam Luang) on December 24, 1923.

It is now over 80 years since H.R.H. Prince Chumporn Khet Udomsak passed away; however, what he left behind has yielded countless benefits for the Royal Thai Navy. On February 11, 1993, the Royal Thai Navy marked May 19 of every year as “Aabhakorn’s Day” and took the occasion to give him the honorary title of “Father of the Royal Thai Navy”.