THE KRAISON SIHARAT RESIDENTIAL HALL
Thale Chup Son (ทะเลชุบศร)

The Kraison Siharat residential hall commonly known as Phra Thinang Yen or the Thale Chup Son Hall was situated on an island in the Thale Chup
Son freshwater reservoir (literally: arrow dip sea) which is believed to date back to the period of the Khmer rule in the 13th century. Since ancient
times Thai people believed that the life story of Rama occurred on Thai soil, and consequently, some of the cities, towns, villages, mountains, and
lakes have been popularly associated with the legend. Thale Chup Son was low-lying land connected to the slightly higher located Phrommat (1)
fields in the west. Water from the Khao Sam Yot mountain range drained into this lowland forming a shallow lake.

In the Brahman mythology, Vishnu came to earth incarnated as Phra Rama. The waters of Thale Chup Son are considered to be sacred, because
Rama is believed to have immersed the head of his arrow in this lake. In 1854 A.D., the weapons of King Mongkut (Rama IV) were sprinkled with
the water of the lake in order to strengthen them by the power of Rama. [1]

Guy Tachard, a French Jesuit missionary, described the lake as follows:

"
At a league from Louvo this Prince has built a very roomy Palace. It is surrounded by brick walls fairly high. The interior is made of
wood only. The place is very pleasant on account of the natural situation. There is a large stretch of water which makes of it a peninsula,
and on this water the King of Siam has built two frigates with six small pieces of cannon, on which this Prince takes pleasure in going
about. Beyond this canal is a forest, 15-20 leagues in extent and full of Elephants, Rhinoceros, Tigers, Deer and Gazelles.
" [2]

King Narai (reign 1656-1688) went up to the area of Lopburi for recreational purpose. Around 1666, after having reigned ten years, King Narai
began enlarging and improving the town of Lopburi, building a palace and a forest lodge. [3]. The King used to reside here from then onward during
the cool and hot season, about nine months of the year for the enjoyment of hunting elephants and tigers.
"At that time the Holy Feet of the Paramount Refuge, [CF: Paramount] Reverence and Holy Buddha Lord Omnipotent proceeded in holy
royal procession on up to the Municipality of Lopburi frequently and proceeded to tour the vicinity of Crystal Pool. Then a holy royal
palace enclosure was ordered to be built at the Municipality of Lopburi and His Majesty resided, contented in His holy heart, in that place.
Thereafter His Majesty proceeded in holy royal procession on a tour to view the spacious woods and forests and the [C: rough] [DF:
summit] areas, splendid with [CD: their varieties] [F: all types] of vegetation, deliciously shady and soaring, solitary spots and forest files
far afield, abundant with birds, with various winged things and with four-legged beasts to excite His holy heart with glee and [C: gaiety]
[DF: ecstasy]. … Then it was ordered that a holy [F: royal] residence be established in that place. And His Majesty went to tour that
vicinity frequently and then His Majesty would accordingly return to the holy royal palace enclosure.
" [4]

The freshwater reservoir was completed in 1684 to provide a continuing supply of fresh water to the Rachaniwet Palace located 4 Km to the
southwest along the Lopburi River. The sloping ground from the low range of hills to the east is a natural depression and served as one side of the
embankments of the reservoir. On the south and west, the reservoir was enclosed by a heavy earthen embankment, about 7 Km long and around 4
meters high, while the area available for the storage of water was roughly 2.5 square kilometers. These embankments became today part of the No
3013 and No 3016 roads. The probable depth of the water, when the tank was full must have been around 3 meters, deeper in some places and less
in others. [5] At present Thale Chup Son is no more and the area is occupied with residences and many ponds, the latter the last witnesses of the old
reservoir. We still can see the steep slopes going down from the two roads into the low-lying area, which was once the bottom of the reservoir.

The Kraison Siharat residential hall

"The King of Siam drinks water from a great Cistern made in the Fields, on which is kept a continual Watch. Besides that this Prince has a
little house called Tlee Poussone, or Rich Sea, about a League from Louvo. It is seated on the brink of certain Low-lands, about two or
three Leagues in extent, which receive the Rain-waters and preserve them. This little Sea is of an irregular figure, its Shores are neither
handsom nor even; but its Waters are wholesome, by reason they are deep and setled, and I have also heard that the King of Siam drinks
thereof.
" [6]

Within the former freshwater reservoir and near the western embankment, on a small elevated piece of land, stands the Kraison Siharat residential
hall. The hall is a one-storey building built of brick and plaster in a cruciform plan. The layout has 4 front porches with exceeding redented corners
designed to be similar to the architectural style of the Suttha Sawan residential hall at Phra Narai Rachaniwet Palace. Thai and western architectures
are blended in the construction, but the Thai influence remained the strongest. Today only the walls remain of the hall. Within the compound there is a
group of small brick buildings built with pointed arched doors and windows, presumably being the accommodation for the guards. In front of the area
behind the hall, there are two types of mounting platforms each on one side; one for the king to mount an elephant and a second one to access a
sedan chair.

The country retreat was surrounded by a wall. Several iron chains were placed next to each other half a foot apart, occupying the width of the solid
ground between the canal and the wall. They were armed with a double rank of big iron spikes, a kind of caltrops. Every night these chains were
tightened around the retreat and served to defend and hinder the approaches of the island. Along the outside wall was a 60 to 70 cm wide path for
the guards to patrol. (Tachard, 1688)

Astronomy

The Kraison Siharat residential hall is important in terms of astronomy because King Narai utilised this place for an observation of a lunar eclipse in
the early morning of 11 December 1685. The French King Louis XIV sent six Jesuit mathematicians and astronomers on a scientific expedition to the
Indies and China with the first French Embassy of Chevalier Alexandre de Chaumont following a request by Ferdinand Verbiest. The Jesuits under
the lead of Jean de Fontenay (1643–1710) were Joachim Bouvet (1656–1730), Louis le Comte (1655–1728), Jean-François Gerbillon (1654–
1707), Guy Tachard (1648–1712) and Claude de Visdelou (1656–1737).

On 15 November, the six Jesuits were transported to Lopburi in three large boats, one for themselves with 24 rowers and two other boats for their
luggage and instruments. On 22 November 1985, the French Jesuit astronomers had a short particular audience with King Narai in Lopburi. As there
was a total lunar eclipse expected in the morning on 11 December 1685, King Narai invited them to observe the eclipse from his country retreat in
Thale Chup Son. Phaulkon and the Jesuits made a reconnaissance to the Kraison Siharat on 9 December. They found the location very suitable for
their observations of the lunar eclipse as a panorama of the sky could be easily seen and there was enough space for the installation of their
instruments.

"
A more convenient spot could not be selected. We saw the Heavens on all sides and we had all the space necessary for setting up our
instruments. Having settled everything we returned to Louvo.
" (Tachard, 1686).
(The Kraison Siharat residential hall or Phra Thinang Yen)
(The engraving No XXVI in "A Relation of the Voyage to Siam, performed by Six Jesuits
sent by the French King to the Indies and China in the Year 1685")
On the 10th of December, around 1600 Hr, the Jesuits returned to the hall armed with three telescopes and a pendulum. Thereafter they joined an
Elephant hunt. At 2100 Hr, after having visited the illumination for the elephant hunt, the Jesuits arrived at a wide canal of about 4 Km long leading to
the Kraison Siharat, where a barge was waiting for them. They went to the observation site in order to adjust their instruments and after an hour they
re-embarked and went to the lodging of Phaulkon, situated about 140 meters (100 passes) from the hall, arriving there at 2300 Hr to rest. At 0300
Hr they re-embarked to go to the observation site, situated on the western side of the Kraison Siharat residential hall, on a terrace adjacent to the
reservoir and started to ready their instruments. A 5-ft long telescope was readied in the window of a nearby lounge for the King. The king followed
the observations for two hours, asked different questions and even requested to have a look with the 12-ft long telescope (2) of Father de Fontenay.
The Jesuits made their last observations around 0600 Hr at the house of Phaulkon.

"
… went to the Gallery where the observation was to be made. It was then near Three of the Clock in the Morning... We prepared a very
good Telescope for [His Majesty] five foot long, in a Window of a Room that looked into the Gallery where we were... The King expressed
a particular Satisfaction, seeing all the Spots of the Moon in the Telescope... He put several Questions to us during the Eclipse. He had a
mind to look in a Telescope twelve foot long... He suffered us to rise and stand in his Presence, and would look in the Telescope after us, for
we must needs set it to its Point when we presented it to him...
" (Tachard, 1688)

The engraving No XXVI in Tachard's book (3) shows the lunar eclipse observation at Thale Chup Son. King Narai wears a cone-shaped headdress
and witnesses the eclipse through a telescope placed on a tripod from a window. Constantine Phaulkon (4) stands in the window next to the king. At
one side of the water, terrace are crouching mandarins, while on the other side are the six Jesuit astronomers, looking through their telescopes, using a
pendulum clock and taking notes. Six cassocks and as many coats of satin with flowers are presented on a silver platter by a mandarin to the Jesuits.
On the painting, we see the covered walkway on the east side leading to the main hall. The pavilion stands west of the walkway adjacent to the
western water terrace.
(The pavilion where King Narai resided during the eclipse observation)
The successful observation of the lunar eclipse increased the enthusiasm of King Narai, who was very interested. The king supported the idea by
Phaulkon of the establishment of major observatories in Ayutthaya as well as in Lopburi, similar to the ones in Beijing and Paris. As such the
construction of a four-storey tower observatory was started in Lopburi in 1686. King Narai also ordered his Siamese Embassy to France to demand
twelve mathematicians to King Louis XIV, to man these observatories. (Tachard, 239)

It is said that the first astronomical study in Thailand occurred here at the Kraison Siharat residential hall as mentioned on the information board in situ,
but this honour goes in fact to the Jesuit Father Antoine Thomas (1644-1709) from Namur (present Belgium), who arrived in Ayutthaya on 1
September 1681 in the hope to reach Japan. Thomas, forced to stay in Ayutthaya, carried out solar observations from the Jesuit church San Paulo or
from the nearby Jesuit residence in the Portuguese settlement, on 14 October and 30 December 1681 in order to determine the latitude of Ayutthaya.
He also observed the
22 February 1682 lunar eclipse with a 'simple pendulum' and determined the longitude of the city. Thomas left Ayutthaya soon
after and arrived in Macau on 4 July 1682 on his way to Beijing. [7]

Hydraulics

"Now the King manifested His holy compassion by commanding that Snare Mouth Canal be constructed leading away from Crystal Pool
and be [CF: overlaid] [D: covered over] with stone joined by mortar in fine fashion. Then it was ordered that a canal be dug to bring in
water from Arrow Dip Lake all the way to that Snare Mouth Canal at Crystal Pool
". (Cushman, 2006)

King Narai wanted to have freshwater supply in his palace and ordered the construction of waterworks. Father Tommaso Valguarnera (1608-1677)
played a significant role in the initial construction of the waterworks system, but it took until 1684 until the construction of the water supply pipes were
completed.
"On the left is a large reservoir for the supply of water to the whole Palace; it is the work of a Frenchman and of an Italian more successful
and more skillful in Hydraulics than several Foreigners who have worked there with the most expert Siamese for ten entire years without
having succeeded in anything. The reward which they received from the King was in proportion to the service which they had rendered
him, and to the earnest wish which the Prince had always entertained of having water in his Castle.
" [8]

From the dammed freshwater reservoir of Thale Chup Son, an open water channel was dug, called the Pak Chan Canal, towards a pool of water
called Sra Kaeo (Crystal Pond). Giblin on a survey to the area in 1908, reported that near the south-west corner of the reservoir there were two
water gates (5), which could still be seen. The water from the reservoir was drained towards the pond via the Pak Chan water regulator controlling
the water running into Sra Kaeo. The latter served as a sedimentation pond (filter). From here the purified water was distributed through baked-clay
water pipes (terracotta) protected by brick trenches, to the palace. Sra Kaeo, of which still remnants exist, was situated north of Wat Sai renamed
today Wat Chi Pa Suntharam in Tha Hin Sub-district of Lopburi District.

Constantine Phaulkon

Thale Chup Son is also related to a macabre event in the Siamese history. It was in this area, that Constantine Phaulkon, the Phraya Wichayen, was
put to death on 5 June 1688. Phaulkon 's death is described in a "History of M. Constance", written by the Jesuit father Pierre-Joseph d' Orléans
(1641-1698). [9]

"
They made him mount an elephant and took him well guarded to the Tale-Poussoone. ·when they had arrived at the place of execution
they made him descend to the ground and told him that he must die.
"… "Then an executioner advanced and with a back handed stroke of
the sword having cut him in two caused him to fall on his face, dying and heaving a deep sigh, which was the last of his life. Thus died in
the flower of his years a famous man, at the age of 41 years.
"
(The Pak Jan water gate at the crossing of roads No 3016 and 3103)
Phaulkon was horribly tortured, declared guilty of lèse-majesté and high treason, and condemned to death by Petracha (6) the days before. He was
transported to Thale Chup Son by an execution party under the command of Petracha’s son, Luang Sorasak. (7)  A 'painted arm' (8) struck him with
the reverse of his saber which split him down the middle of his body. He fell dying on his face with a great sigh. To finish him off his head was sliced
with several blows and his remains thrown into a ditch on the spot. [10]

Seidenfaden noted that during his visit in 1921, he observed just before reaching the Kraison Siharat residential hall, four small wooden Chao Thi
(spirit of the land) shrines erected on the embankment and they were called "
San Chao Phraya Wichayen". According to the popular belief, it was
here that Phaulkon met his death and the spirit houses were erected to appease his spirit. [11]


Footnotes:

(1) In ancient Sanskrit writings Prommat (Th) or Brahmastra refers to a weapon created by Brahma. The Brahmastra is mentioned in the epics and
Vedas as a weapon of last resort and was never to be used in combat. In a number of Purana it was considered as a very destructive weapon, while
in the Mahabharata it is described as a weapon which is said to be a single projectile charged with all the power of the universe.
(2) The 12-ft telescope was made by the Paris telescope maker Philippe Claude Lebas (1637–1677), while the pendulum clock was made by the
royal Paris clockmaker Isaac Thuret (ca 1630-1706).
(3) The painting was drawn by Pierre-Paul Sevin and engraved in Paris by Cornelius-Martin Vermeulen. None of the two were present in Siam. The
accuracy of the painting is as thus certainly not guaranteed. (Michel Jacq-Hergoualc’h, in his catalogue of the exhibition Phra Narai, Roi de Siam, et
Louis XIV held at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, in 1986; Smithies, Michael (2003) - "Eclipses in Siam 1685 and 1688, and their Representation".
- The Journal of the Siam Society, vol 91).
(4) Constantine Phaulkon (1647-1688) was a Greek adventurer, who worked as an interpreter with the English East India Company in the years
1670–78. He was introduced to the Siamese court and rose quickly to become acting minister of finance and foreign affairs, and by 1685, as virtual
prime minister, he took the leading role in shaping King Narai’s foreign policy. In collaboration with French Roman Catholic missionaries, Phaulkon
schemed to establish French power in Thailand. He encouraged diplomatic exchanges between King Narai and King Louis XIV, and a treaty was
drafted in December 1685. Louis XIV presented additional demands and sent in 1687 an armed French expedition to Siam to secure acceptance of
his terms, which included French garrisons at the strategic sites of Bangkok and Mergui. A final treaty was ratified by Narai, who hoped that closer
relations with France would help to balance the strong Dutch economic influence in Ayutthaya. In March 1688 King Narai became seriously ill.
Phaulkon, isolated without the king’s support, was overthrown and executed by an anti-French faction at the Thai court led by Narai’s foster brother
Phetracha. The French garrisons were expelled from the country. (Britannica)
(5) Giblin wrote that he saw another sluice-gate to the north, but it is uncertain whether this was used merely as an overflow or was an opening into a
channel leading to the city by another route. (Giblin, 1908)
(6) Later King Phetracha (reign 1688-1703). Ok-Phra Petracha was brought up with Narai. The latter placed him in charge of the royal elephants.
Aided by his son Sorosak, Petracha cleverly orchestrated the events from the time King Narai fell ill in February 1688. He disposed of Narai's
favourite Mom Pi and the king’s half-brothers Chao Fa Noi and Aphaithot; arrested and murdered Phaulkon, and finally added Narai's daughter -
Queen Yotthathep - to the number of his wives. Ok-Phra Petracha's coup d' etat in Lopburi took place on 18 May 1688. (Forbin, Count Claude
(de) - The Siamese Memoirs of Count Claude de Forbin 1685–1688. Introduced and edited by Michael Smithies. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books,
1996.)
(7) Later King Süa (reign 1703-1709)
(8) Called "Os Braços Pintados" by the Portuguese, because they had their arms painted red. These people were the guards, gatekeepers, rowers
and executioners of the king.


References:

[1] Singaravelu, S. (1982) - "The Rama Story in the Thai Cultural Tradition" - The Journal of the Siam Society, vol. 70, no. 1 & 2.
[2] Tachard, Guy (1981) - “A Relation of the Voyage to Siam, performed by Six Jesuits sent by the French King to the Indies and China in the Year
1685.” [1688] Bangkok: White Orchid Press.
[3] Van der Cruysse, Dirk (2002) - “Siam & the West, 1500-1700” - Silkworm Books.
[4] Cushman, Richard D, (2006) - "The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya" - The Siam Society, Bangkok - Narai’s Summer Palace at Lopburi - Page
302.
[5] Giblin, R.W. (1908) - "Lopburi Past and Present" - The Journal of the Siam Society, vol. 5.3.
[6] De La Loubère, Simon (1693) - “A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam” (2 Tomes) - London - Edited by John Villiers - White
Lotus, Bangkok, 1986.
[7] Orchiston, Wayne; George, Martin; Soonthornthum, Boonrucksar (2016) -  “Exploring the first scientific observations of lunar eclipses made in
Siam” - Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 19(1), 25–45.
[8] Gervaise, Nicolas (1688) - “The Natural and Political History of the Kingdom of Siam” - Paris - Translated and edited by John Villiers - White
Lotus Press, Bangkok, 1998.
[9] Orléans (d'), Pierre-Joseph (1754) - "Histoire De M. Constance, Premier Ministre Du Roi De Siam: Et De La Derniere Revolution De Cet Etat"
- Duplain, Lyon.
[10] Le Blanc, Marcel (1692) - "Histoire de la revolution du roiaume de Siam arrivée en l' année 1688" - Horace Molin, Lyon.
[11] Seidenfaden, Erik (1922) - “An Excursion To Lophburi” - The Journal of the Siam Society, vol 15.2.