Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Numbered subdistricts

Among the 7255 subdistricts, there are several with an interesting history behind their naming. One group of subdistricts has their names being simply numbered, named from Khlong One to Khlong Twelve. The first seven of these subdistricts are within the district Khlong Luang of Pathum Thani province, and two futher are in Nong Chok district within Bangkok. However, while the whole number range from one to seven is covered in Pathum Thani, those two in Bangkok have the number 10 and 12 - as far as I know there never was a subdistrict named Khlong 8, 9 or 11.

When I was looking through some very old announcements in the Royal Gazette, one on the 1915 relocation of the district office on Mueang district in the no longer existing Thanyaburi province lists the previous location as being within the subdistrict Khlong Soi Thi 10 (ตำบลคลองซอยที่ 10) [Gazette]. By using the search function with the Gazette database, it seems the "soi thi" (meaning "branch number") was dropped from the subdistrict names in 1919. The same function also returns that there were subdistricts which had some additional words after the number, e.g. ตำบลคลองซอยที่ ๑๓ ฝั่งตะวันออก (Subdistrict Branch Canal number 13 east side). Sadly I have no complete list of subdistricts of that time, and also many of the subdistrict renamings back then were not announced in the Royal Gazette, so I have no overview how many subdistricts there were originally with this naming scheme.

Map of Rangsit area, source
But the base of this naming system is obvious, as the north-south oriented canals (Khlong, คลอง) branching from Khlong Rangsit are simply numbered, and thus the subdistricts were simply named after the canal where they are located. As the canals were the main way of transport at that time, all of the villages were located right at the canal anyway, the land between was then used for farming.

Tough it focuses more on the irrigation plans for the western rim of the Chao Phraya, the book King of the Waters: Homan Van Der Heide And the Origin of Modern Modern Irrigation in Siam by Han Ten Brummelhuis gives a great overview over the agricultural expansion at the beginning of the 20th century, of which the Rangsit area was only one part.


Mike said...

Andy I would be interested how you would translate Khlong Wan, as in Tambon Khlong Wan.

There does not appear to be a "canal" but a river does enter the sea in the village.

Andy said...

Khlong does not necessarily mean an artificial canal, many small rivers are also named Khlong, only the largest ones are named Maenam, and these are by far not all the words used in river names.

So for your home Tambon, คลองวาฬ means "Whale canal/river" - at least if I can believe the longdo dictionary. A bit unusual to have a small river named after an animal it does not have anywhere near, the only whales it has in the Gulf of Thailand are a few dolphins...