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Bank of Thailand Museum showcases money, history and the beauty of Thai textiles

Bank of Thailand Museum showcases money, history and the beauty of Thai textiles

Medium of exchange in pre-history period.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Bank of Thailand (BoT), on behalf of central bank, is the most important money institute in the country, due to the fact that it plays the primary role of balancing the currency supply and takes care of the security of the Thai baht. Developing countries have more responsibilities because they have to make their monetary system efficient; and to reach international standards in line with the economic growth of the country.
Besides the financial system, BoT plays another important role in that it is an organization which supports art and culture having established the Bank of Thailand Museum at the head office. The Northern branch of BoT now disseminates knowledge about money and Thai clothes to the general public, who might wish to learn all about the country’s precious cultural heritage. In earlier times, people used barter to exchange goods and services, such as exchanging a stone axe for rice or meat. Later they used precious things needed by both parties to exchange, such as shells, rice, livestock, small beads, bronze axes, arrow-heads and agricultural equipment. Precious metals, such as bronze, silver and gold were used for a while, but these were hard to find and went out of use as a medium of exchange. In the past, when governors travelled into a foreign country, they used their own symbol to stamp on silver to pay for bills, so this was the beginning of international currency.

Funan money used during Buddhist Laity Century 6-12.

Not only does the museum show the history of money, but it also displays examples of the currency of different periods and the coinage of each kingdom that has rarely been seen anywhere else; such as Suvanabhumi money, Funan money, Srisaket money, Dharavadhi money, Sriwichai money, Lanna money and of course, modern money are all displayed in the museum.
Thai clothes of Pha Thai, an important form of dress expressing the simple lifestyle of Thai people, and the Thai local economy, from early times until now, are also displayed there. Textiles in the Thai style stress the use of different types of cloth for different occasions, such as the textiles used in a wedding dress; and that used to present to monks and elders. The beliefs and faith of the Thai people were able to preserve the quality of the materials that in turn supported the economy of the local area. In the past, collecting textiles was equivalent to saving money in present times, and textile clothing was sold or exchanged. Any family, who earned their living by farming, could augment their income considerably if the women in that family were good at making textiles and clothes.

Dharavadhi money used during Buddhist Laity Century 12-16.

These days, making textiles is still an important occupation of many Thai people, who use this craft as a means of making money for their families. Samples of weaving are on show in the museum, Pha Khid, Pha Jok, Pha Yok Din and Pha Mad Mee including descriptions of how to make these different types of cloth; and the origin and importance of the craft to the individuals who made them. There are also models of Thai people dressed in period costume, examples of art on different clothes and the modes of dress worn by people in neighboring countries, as well as the evolution of Thai women’s dresses.
The museum is now open to the general public from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1– 4 p.m.; but closed on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. For more information call 053-931182-3.

Shell used as money in the first period of the Lanna Kingdom.

Model of cotton thread making in the past.

Chinese money (first money of the world).

Thai textile tool.

Burmese Chin people’s dresses.

Pha Phidan, cloth of Cambodia.

Evolution of Thai women’s dress of each Royal period.