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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Thai Heritage World Heritage
Heritage World Heritage was produced last year as part of the homage to His
Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The
book, which is a wonderfully large hard cover publication (ISBN
978-974-7706-33-8 PTT Exploration and Production, supported by the National
Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and the Fine Arts
Department) features the sites chosen by UNESCO as World Heritage.
This book was also published to be used in Thai schools, and I applaud all
attempts at educating Thai children about their own heritage, as many of the
young adults have no idea of the rich heritage of this land.
UNESCO has 181 listed sites throughout the world, and Thailand has five of
these. Two are catalogued as “Natural” heritage and three as “Cultural”
heritage, and the book is divided following that classification.
Natural heritage sites are Thung Yai - Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries
and the Dong Phyayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex. In looking at these sites in
detail, the book explores the rich fauna and flora that is found, including
tigers, gaurs, leopards, hornbills, peafowl, wild water buffaloes, elephants
and gibbons. These are illustrated with beautiful color pictures, some
full-bleed on the pages.
The three Cultural heritage sites are dealt with in the same fine detail as
the Natural sites. These are Ban Chiang Archeological site, Sukhothai, Si
Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet Historical Parks, and finally the Historic
City of Ayutthaya.
Ban Chiang is certainly of interest to the historians, as this site has
shown that the ancient inhabitants (around 5,600 years ago) were proficient
at working with bronze, making it one of the first villages in the world to
have this level of technology. Using this knowledge, the Ban Chiang
villagers were adept at smelting and made bronze axes, arrow heads and fish
hooks. The distinctive Ban Chiang pottery is also prized amongst collectors.
The ancient capital of Sukhothai is also explained in detail, including the
fact that the original structures were built as part of the Brahmin religion
and was later converted to Buddhism by the building of other structures to
fit that religion.
The history of Ayutthaya is given with a wealth of detail, going back long
before the sieges by Burma. The facts around the foreign traders are given,
including the digging of canals to shorten the distance by boat between the
coast and the capital. The photography is magnificent, and there are also
some old photographs which show how well the areas have been preserved. Maps
of the regions are included in this reference book, plus an index at the
At B. 1450 for a full color hardback makes it a bargain. Obviously PTT were
not looking to make a profit on this publication at such a price. If you
have even the slightest interest in Thailand and its heritage, this book
deserves to be on your bookshelves.
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