WAT CHEDI DAENG





Wat Chedi Daeng is an active monastery located north of Ayutthaya’s city island on the Phaniat peninsula. Khlong Hua Ro (1) flows to its west, and Khlong Daeng (2) is situated directly north of the monastery.


The monastery has a walled ordination hall with double porches. There are two entries to the east and the west and six windows on the sides. There is actually not a red chedi in situ, but there could have been in earlier times. About 30 metres west of the ubosot stands a twenty-rabbeted-angled chedi typical for the Fourth Ayutthaya architectural sub-period (1732-1767 CE). I presume this chedi is not associated with the ordination hall.


The temple is in geographical coordinates: 14° 22' 29.28" N, 100° 34' 15.60" E.


Wat Chedi Daeng in history


In 1749 CE, the Khmer Kingdom was invaded by a Vietnamese army of the Nguyễn lord. King Reameathiptei III, aka Ang Thong (reign 1747-1747 CE), was dethroned, and Ang Chee was re-installed as King Satha II (reign 1722-1736, 1749 CE). King Reameathiptei III and Ang Snguon (Chey Chettha) fled to the Ayutthaya Kingdom to ask the ruler for an army to drive the Vietnamese out. Ang Snguon, with the help of a Siamese army, expelled the Vietnamese and proclaimed himself king Chey Chettha V. The latter was succeeded at his death by Ang Thong (1756-1757 CE).


The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya tell us that King Borommakot ordered the composition of an army at Wat Chedi Daeng (Monastery of the Holy Red Funeral Monument) in 1750 CE to assist the Khmers in fighting off the Vietnamese and Kampuchea becoming a vassal state of Ayutthaya again. The troops' gathering took likely place at Wat Chumphon, or the Monastery of Concentration of Troops (1), nearby Wat Chedi Daeng, where the animistic rites were held before going into battle - a ceremony known as "Phithi Tat Mai Khom Nam," (Cutting the wood which corresponds with the name of the enemy).


“Meanwhile, over in the Country of Kamphut, the Eminent Holy Satha Ong Ing went to ask for the brigades of a Yuan army to come and attack the Capital of Kamphuchathibòdi. Now the Eminent Holy Ramathibòdi and the Eminent Holy Si Chai Chet were unable to battle the Yuan and thereupon led Their voluntary groups of followers in fleeing, routed, on in to seek the protection of the Accumulation of Merit of the Holy Paramount Fig Tree by way of the Municipality of Pracinburi. The government officials of the Municipality of Pracin sent a report document on in and the Chief Magistrate prostrated himself in homage and told the King. The King thereupon manifested His holy compassion by being pleased to send crown servants out to bring both of the Khmer lords, and their voluntary groups of followers, on in to the Holy Grand Metropolis. Then the King issued a holy royal proclamation commanding ten thousand troops be conscripted and sending Phraya Ratcha Suphawadi out to encamp and assemble the troops there at the Monastery of the Holy Red Funeral Monument.” [1]





In 1760 CE, two thousand Chinese volunteers under Luang Aphai Phiphat intended to stop the attacking Burmese by trying to put up a stockade in the Pho Sam Ton area across Khlong Chang (3). Mün Thip Sena reinforced the Chinese in the rear by encamping one thousand troops at Wat Borommawong (Monastery of the Sea of Grass), soon to be flushed out by the Burmese.
“Thereupon Luang Aphai Phiphat organized two thousand Chinese masters of the kai and advanced forth to erect a stockade. Burmese crossed the Mother of Waters [at] the Three Fig Trees and came to attack the brigades of the Chinese army who were accordingly routed into the river. The Burmese, seeing they had gained the advantage, chased right after them and slashed and killed them all the way to the ecclesiastical gaol of the Monastery of the Sea of Grass. The brigade of Mün Thip Sena was encamped in that place and he and his men watched and accordingly allowed themselves to be routed on in across the river as well. People were lost in great numbers. The Burmese accordingly advanced the brigades of their army in pursuit and established stockades at the Elephant Corrals and the Monastery of the Holy Red Funeral Monument.” [2]
The Burmese, in the second half of 1764 CE, decided to turn upon Ayutthaya. When the Ayutthaya forces were defeated in Ratcha Buri, Phet Buri and Kanchana Buri, King Ekathat (reign 1758-1767 CE) ordered the redoubling of the defence efforts in and around the main city. Forces from Phitsanulok came down to encamp near Wat Phukhao Thong, while troops from Korat encamped near Wat Chedi Daeng before going down to defend Thonburi.
“The King thereupon had an army conscripted in the provincial municipalities of the Southern Estuaries to go to encamp and engage the enemy at the Hamlet of Bamru. A boat army was encamped at the Hamlet of the Shrimp. Then the King had an army conscripted from the Municipality of Phitsanulok to come and encamp at the Monastery of the Gold Mountain. After an army from the Municipality of Nakhòn Ratcha Sima had encamped at the Monastery of the Holy Red Funeral Monument, the King had Phraya Thamma take command of the brigades of the army of Nakhòn Ratcha Sima and come down to defend the Municipality of Thonburi.” [3]
The Burmese, in their final attack on Ayutthaya in April 1767 CE, had established near Wat Chedi Daeng one of their many enclosures, from which the Siamese capital was invested. Burmese soldiers from this enclosure, together with those of Wat Sam Wihan and Wat Monthop, constructed a bridge with bamboo slats at Hua Ro and finally, by way of a tunnel, succeeded in blasting the walls at Ayutthaya’s northeastern point and entering the city.
“Meanwhile, Nemiao, the general of the armies in the stockade at the Three Fig Trees, thereupon had the Burmese troops advance to set fire to and burn down that palace at the Elephant Corrals. Then he had them set up stockades at the Elephant Corrals, at the Monastery of the Holy Red Funeral Monument, at the Monastery of the Three Preaching Halls, at the Monastery of the Spired Building, at the Monastery of the Tent, at the Monastery of the Lady Nun, at the Monastery of the Jubilant Lady and at the Monastery of the Glorious Fig, and he had them erect bastions in each and every stockade, take large and small guns up into them, and fire them off into the Capital.” [4]
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Hua Ro is situated off the city island in the northern area north of Hua Ro Sub-district. The canal is the western border of the Suan Phrik Sub-district and the eastern border of the Lum Phli and Khlong Sra Bua sub-districts. The old Lopburi River bed ran from Wat Khao Din (Wat Wora Nayok Rangsan) in Bang Pahan District towards the city of Ayutthaya and is now divided in four stretches Khlong Ban Muang from Wat Muang until Wat Dao Khanong in Bang Pahan District Khlong Bang Khuat (a short-cut canal in the Lopburi River loop) from Wat Dao Khanong to (south of) Wat Klang Raman in Ayutthaya City District Khlong Hua Ro from (north of) Wat Pom Raman to Hua Ro in Ayutthaya City District.
(2) Khlong Daeng, likely abbreviated from Wat Chedi Daeng, connects Khlong Hua Ro with the new Lopburi River.
(3) Monasteries bearing the same name and used as a troop concentration area before going into battle were found northwest of Ayutthaya (Wat Tum area), southeast (Suan Phlu area) and south (Pak Kran area).
(4) Khlong Chang, or the Canal of the Elephants, is an old canal situated north of Ayutthaya on the edge of the Ayutthaya and Bang Pahan districts. The waterway was the northern stretch of the U-loop in the old Lopburi River in Thung Lumphli, situated between Wat Kuti Lai and Wat Dao Khanong (Wat Pak Khlong). The canal continued along the southern side of Wat Dao Khanong through Thung Pho Sam Ton towards Wat Ton Satu (Wat Tha Khwai) and joined here the new Lopburi River. Opposite the mouth was Ban Nam Won, or the Whirlpool Village, probably named after the whirlpools formed by the confluence.




References:


[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 449.

[2] Ibid. pp. 481-2.

[3] Ibid. pp. 495-6.

[4] Ibid. p. 517.