Monday, August 16, 2010

Books on municipal and provincial seals

Seal of Surat Thani province
On the Thai Wikipedia, the list of provincial seals include some former provinces - Phra Nakhon and Thonburi which were merged into Bangkok metropolis in 1972 and the four provinces in the annexed areas of modern-day Laos and Cambodia in World War II. As the source for these images, a publication by the Fine Arts Department (กรมศิลปากรจัดพิมพ์) published in 1999 was given. I guess this book, titled ตราประจำจังหวัด (Tra pracham changwat, provincial seals), is probably completely impossible to get in the bookstores anymore, and I haven't had the time to check any of the libraries in Bangkok during my short vacation times there. And sadly Google Books has no scans of this book either. At 350 pages, i.e. about 4 pages per province, it would be a great resource, so if anyone could catch me a copy or even just scans of the pages it would absolutely great.

While looking for more about this book, I discovered that there were earlier similar publications. In 1968, the Department of Provincial Administration (กรมการปกครอง) published a book titled ประวัติและความหายของดวงตราประจำจังหวัด (Prawat lae khwammai khong duang tra pracham changwat, Provincial seals, their history and meaning), though at 71 pages it probably much less detailed than the 1999 book. But even more interesting is another one titled ประวัติและความหายของดวงตราประจำเทศบาลทั่วราชอาณาจักร) (Prawat lae khwammai khong dūang tra pracham thetsaban thua ratchaanachak, Municipal seals, their history and meaning). As there were only about 120 municipalities back then, these fit well into the 120 pages of this book. What is really a pits is that both books have been scanned by the University of Michigan, but due to the copyright law one cannot access the scans on the net - even though I would think the books are not copyrighted as being governmental publications.

Seal of TAO Bang Bai Mai,
Surat Thani
Today, a book on the municipal seals would become a multi-volume one, as there are around 2000 municipalities by now. Additionally, the 5700 TAO also each have seals, altogether 7776 local government entities to be covered. And there were a few TAO which were abolished again already, don't know if these ever had seals as well. Thus if an equal coverage as in the 1999 book is attempted, one could easily fill a book with just the seals in a single province. Though I prefer the dead-tree books, this much more calls for an eBook, or even better to become a part of the Wikipedia. If only I could be more sure about the copyright status of these seals - even the provincial seals had once been deleted on Wikipedia as being of unsure status - I would have started long time with those few seals I could draw in vector format already.


Ian said...

I am planning to spend a week or so in bkk in mid-Sep, to do a little research myself at Silapokon uni. I can certainly have a look for the prov seal book there. I have a Thai friend who studies at SU, so she could help me decode.
Is there any one particular piece of info you are after, or, I assume, you would like the entire book? I could possibly photography the book and email it to you.


Andy said...

Best would be of course the whole book. I have no idea how detailed the book is on the seals or if it also has the umptenth repetition of the basic data of each province, so it's hard to say how much I could ask you to scan without being insolent and hindering your own research. Since I do have some basics on each provincial seal already, the whole section on my favorite province Surat Thani would be prime importance, and then the sections on the four annexed provinces. Even these few parts will take me quite some time to decode with my limited Thai, but it's a good incentive to actually learn more.

Actually, the book on the municipal seals would be even more interesting, as for those there are so few scattered resources only, but as it is much older I have no idea how big the chances it is available in that library.

Ian said...

How about this. I will look for the book at Silpakorn, if not there I will try Chula. Assuming a discovery is made, I will photograph the Surat Thani pages, email them to you, and see how we go from there.

Ian said...

Good news. I found the book ตราประจำจังหวัด (Tra pracham changwat, provincial seals), at Silpakorn University library. I also photographed the intro and some of the pages, including some of the Cambo and Laos provinces.
The librarians there were v helpful, they brought out several other old books dealing with provinces and seals and so forth. Unfortunately, due to holidays none of the academic staff were present, and we were hampered in our communication, thus I think I missed one or two things. However, I did manage to get the seals for some of the provinces you were interested in.
I will post the info to flicr in a day or two, possibly four (travelling soon).
When you return I suggest a visit to this library, I am sure that you will enjoy.

re: Battambang city pillar shrine. No one knew of it, however, none of the library staff were present in the town, they all went to their homes for the Buddhist holiday. I briefly spoke to the dep governor, he had not heard of it. Several people suggested that the Thais would have taken the shrine when they left.

Andy said...

I very much look forward to see those scans, will give me material for new posts for sure. Which library did you visit - the Bangkok one next to Sanam Luang, or the one on the new campus in Nakhon Pathom?

Ian said...

The Bangkok campus, next to the Min of Fine Arts. I was hoping to visit Nakhon Pathom this time, but I ran out of time. I was planning on spending several days at Silpakorn bkk, but was only able to manage one day.

I will be back in bkk for a few days, in 5 weeks time. If there is anything more you need as a followup to this info, please let me know. I will see what I can do. I enjoy visiting S uni library, it has an excellent history section.

Ian said...

Hello Andy,
I have uploaded the images to

Please let me know how you go. The entire process was rather hurried, librarians were putting the books in front of me, and telling me what I needed to copy. I found now only 1 Laos province, but 2 from Cambodia. Perhaps one was missed in the rush?
I will be back in Silpakorn in ~4 weeks, let me know if you have followup requests.