Thursday, December 6, 2007

City pillars

When I first came to visit the town Surat Thani, which sadly has only very few beautiful old temples, one building along the drive through the center looked rather striking to me. However I did not pass it again that year, so I had to search the internet at home to find what was that building and finally learned that it is the City Pillar Shrine (หลักเมือง, Lak Mueang), considered to house a guardian spirit for the town.

Nowadays every provincial capital has one building like that, many built rather recently. For example the one in Surat Thani was built around 1995 at the former location of the provincial hall, which had to torn down after it was seriously damaged in 1982 by a bomb planted by communist insurgents. In some other provinces these shrines are quite old, for example the Chinese style shrine in Songkhla. Trang is also a special case, where the shrine is located far outside the modern city, which was moved in the beginning of the 20th century to a less flood-prone location. Not only the modern-day provinces have a city pillar - Phra Pradaeng has one as it was a province till 1932, and also Mae Sai, though it never was a province.

As these shrines form the mythological center of each province I started to collect photos of these shrines, every time I visit a new town I try to get a chance to see and photograph the city pillar shrine. On a scrapbook at Wikipedia I collect notes, which might grow into articles on each of these shrines one day.

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