Friday, December 10, 2010

Mueang Phon Phisai in 1884

Another interesting quote from the book Isan Travels by Etienne Aymonier. On February 5 1884 he stayed in Phon Phisai, a small Mueang east of Nong Khai at the Mekong river, and gave a detailed description of this small province in his travelogue. I only have a few pages of this book at hand right now - will buy it next time I'm in Bangkok for sure - but it seems in other chapters it has similar descriptions of the Mueang he visited. As many of the minor Mueang are nowadays districts, this should give quite some material to enhance the history sections of the corresponding Wikipedia articles. The one on Phon Phisai also had almost nothing about the history prior to the 20th century.

Note that the coordinates given in the first sentence are clearly wrong as it would have placed Phon Phisai into Phrae province, Francis Garnier systematically had the longitude about 3 degrees off to the west maybe due to a faulty clock - the correct location of the modern district center is at 18°1′19″ N, 103°4′38″ E.

Mœuong Phon Vi Saï, at 18°01′00″ N, 100°39′00″ E (according to Garnier), was a village of about 150 huts dispersed among fruit trees along the right bank of the river. The terrain, quite low, flooded by the river's high rises, did not allow the cultivation of rice in that immediate vicinity. There were five pagodas, each with seven or eight monks. The population, which was Laotian, cultivated rice and cotton. There were a few Chinese there who sold fabric and pottery and who bought bastard cardamon, which could be collected in the forests. [...]

The chau had as titles: phrah saurinhah sakdi santhon chao Mœuong Phon Vi Saï; or, according to others phrah visaï saura dêt chau Mœuong Phon Vi Saï. The province was bordered in the east by Sayahbouri at the Keng Sadâk, a four days' march from Phon Vi Saï; in the south by Nong Han, in Ban Pho, half a day's march from Phon Vi Saï; and in the west by the Houé Luoung, which separated the province from Nong Khaï. In the north this small province, entirely on the right bank, was bordered by the Great River. Nevertheless, people said that Mœuong Pasoum on the Nam San came under the jurisdiction of Phon Vi Saï and still sent its tribute there. In Phon Vi Saï there reportedly were 900 registered men and 200 outside. The annual poll tax was six ticals per married registered man, three ticals for an elder, and two ticals for a single young man. The tribute taken to Bangkok was thirty-six catties. The inhabitants complained that the tax was too heavy. The authorities had requested a reduction from Bangkok, but in vain.

When my two men were in Phon Vi Saï, the chau had been dead for some time, leaving behind only young children. His first cousin, the oppahat, provisionally replaced him while waiting for his nomination as incumbent; the two dignities had been in the family for a long time. The dignities of ratsevong and ratsebout belonged to another family, which also passed from father to son. [...]

1 comment:

Tom said...

the police station was also the site of a major shoot out in the 70s