WAT JIN





Wat Jin is a defunct temple situated on Ayutthaya’s city island in the southeastern part of the city in the Pratu Chai Sub-district. The monastery stood on the present property of the Rachaphat University Student Dormitory.


The monastery was located west of Khlong Makham Riang (1), Wat Jek stood in the northeast, Wat Sing Rai stood southeast, Wat Tha Ma south and Wat Sam Jin west.


In situ are broken parts of Buddha images stacked next to a tree as evidence. A second rectangular mound can be seen east of this site, but it has eroded down to only a few bricks. Wat Jin was likely part of the Chinese quarter, east of Khlong Pratu Jin (2), situated on the island's southeast corner. ‘Jin’ is the Thai denomination for Chinese.


Chris Baker wrote: "In the seventeenth-century European accounts, the main Chinese commercial settlement was in the southeast, behind the port, where the main thoroughfare was called Chinese Street and the city gate called Chinese Gate. In the Description, this market stretches over half a kilometer along Chinese Street, which is lined with “Chinese brick shops on both sides” selling “all kinds of goods from China, including food and fruit”. This market has also expanded to the east and merged with the Three Horses Market behind Diamond Fort. On the island, close to the main Chinese market, there are Chinese settlements making sweets, noodles, barrels, water jars, rattan furniture, and metal ware." [1]


Wat Jin on the maps


On a 19th-century map by an unknown surveyor, we find a temple called Wat Noi Nang Hong, or the Little Monastery of Lady Swan, more or less in the area where Wat Jin was situated. The map indicates the existence of a chedi. I assume that Wat Noi Nang Hong could have been an alternative name for Wat Jin.


The monastery is shown on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's [PBR] map drafted in 1926 CE in a position more north. This position is repeated on several Fine Arts Department maps after that. My defence is that on the 19th-century map, Wat Noi Nang Hong stands south of the line between Wat Khun Khon Jai (Wat Khun Mueang Jai) and Wat Trae (Wat Ho Rakhang). The position of Wat Noi Nang Hong PBR indicates, is north of this line and, in my opinion, must be the position of Wat Pa Takua on the 19th-century map. (3)


Wat Jin appears on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map of 1926 CE, in the same position as mentioned at the beginning of the document and on the Fine Arts Department [FAD] of 1974, 1993 and 2007 CE. Phraya Boran (1871-1936 CE) was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE but occupied important functions since 1896 CE in Monthon Ayutthaya.


Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown.


The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 0.88" N, 100° 34' 29.19" E.


Footnotes:


(1) Khlong Makham Riang, or the Canal of the aligned Tamarind Trees, was before called Khlong Nai Kai. It is a still existent canal situated east on Ayutthaya's city island. The canal was a shortcut in the oxbow of the old Lopburi River. It has today its origin at Khlong Ho Rattana Chai below Wat Senasanaram and the Front Palace, and its mouth at the present Chao Phraya River, west of Phet Fortress. At the mouth was one of the eleven water gates of Ayutthaya called Pratu Nai Kai. The southern exit of the canal, having today a water regulator, has been altered. The original mouth was about 170 metres more south, close to Pom Phet. Khlong Makham Riang is one of the three large canals running north to south, of which two still are in existence.

(2) Khlong Pratu Jin was the southern extension of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak and part of a waterway running through the middle of Ayutthaya from north to south. The canal, a shortcut in the oxbow of the Lopburi River, ran until the Chikun Bridge and continued to the Chinese water gate (Pratu Jin).

(3) Assessing all the monastic structures in the zone demarcated by Chikun Road, Pa Thon Road, Pridi Banomyong/Rojana Road and U Thong Road is rather complex, as the position and name of the structures vary on different maps. On a 19th century map, there are 15 structures counted, while on the 20th century PBR map, there are 13 mentioned. There is inconsistency in the names and the positions. Even maps drafted by the Fine Arts Department, what I presume based on excavations in the zone, shed no light on this matter. Positions of monastic structures can be asserted, but their ancient names will remain questioned forever.





References:


[1] Baker, Chris (2011). Before Ayutthaya Fell: Economic Life in an Industrious Society. Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya. Journal of the Siam Society. Vol. 99.