WAT NANG





Wat Nang, or the Monastery of the Hides, was located on Ayutthaya’s city island, east of the city in the Ho Rattanachai Sub-district.
The monastery was situated on the south bank of Khlong Pratu Ho Rattanachai (1) and the west bank of Khlong Makham Riang (2).
It stood south of Wat Senasanaram. To its east were the defunct Wat Khwang and the still-active monastery Wat Prasat.
There are no traces anymore visible of the monastery above ground level.
Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown.
Wat Trae is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya around 1663 CE. There was a rivalry between the royal page Chai Khan and Phra Phet Racha. Chai Khan boosted against King Narai (reign 1656-1688 CE), he was superior in a particular game, hinting especially at Phra Phet Racha. King Narai, aware of the rivalry, designated a day for a contest in the elephant-horse chase (1). The game started near Wat Trae, and the run went parallel along the Makham Riang Canal until Wat Nang. Phra Phet Racha won the first round on horseback. Chai Khan, realising he was losing face, skipped the second round and went home.
"The next morning His Majesty held court and all of the marshals attended together. Master Chai Khan, a royal page and the son of a holy nurse, prostrated himself and said to His Holy Grace, “In the display of chase elephant and bait horse, outside the sole exception of the Supreme Holy Lord Omnipotent, there is no-one I am afraid of.” The Supreme Holy Lord Omnipotent was aware that Master Chai Khan was intentionally and maliciously comparing himself to Phra Phet Racha and that Phra Phet Racha was equally knowledgeable, and so He answered Master Chai Khan by saying, “You would each take a turn riding the chase elephant and the bait horse, wouldn’t you?” Master Chai Khan said, “I’ll ride the chase elephant first.” Phra Phet Racha was agreeable. When the designated day arrived, Master Chai Khan rode the premier elephant Phaya Sower of the Three Realms, standing six sòk and six niu high, and Phra Phet Racha rode the horse Mountain of Time, standing three sòk and two niu high. The arena was laid out in the vicinity in front of the Monastery of the Trumpets with the horse and elephant one sen apart. Phra Phet Racha reined his horse into a baiting display. Master Chai Khan drove his elephant and chased him on up close to the Bridge of Bricks at the Monastery of the Hides, and the elephant reached for him. Phra Phet Racha, seeing it almost upon his person, drove his horse into Little Spire Alley and the elephant was left behind. When it was the turn of Phra Phet Racha to ride the elephant, Master Chai Khan fled off to his home. Phra Phet Racha came in for an audience, prostrated himself, spoke to the Holy Lord Omnipotent and related the substance of that entire matter so the King would be informed of all the details. The Supreme Holy Lord Omnipotent said, “Weren’t you aware that that little Chai Khan is a soldier [only] in talk?” [1]
Wat Nang on the maps:
Wat Nang shows on Kaempfer’s sketch. Engelbert Kaempfer was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE. Wat Nang is situated on the west bank of Khlong Makham Riang and the north bank of Khlong Ho Rattana Chai south of the Front Palace. A small bridge crossed Khlong Ho Rattana Chai from Coconut Quarter Road to Wat Chang. A large bridge on the Coconut Quarter Road of which Kaempfer wrote ‘pontem lapideum’ or stone bridge crossed Khlong Makham Riang toward the Ho Rattana Chai Gate.
The monastery is indicated on a 19th-century map drafted by an unknown surveyor. Wat Nang stood north of Coconut Quarter Road on the west bank of Khlong Makham Riang near the Wat Nang Bridge. Wat Senat was northeast, while Wat Klong was southwest, opposite the Coconut Quarter Road and a ditch. The map indicates the existence of a chedi.
Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map of 1926 CE does not indicate Wat Nang.
Based on the 2007 GIS Fine Arts Department map, the site was not excavated.
Wat Nang was approximately in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 45.46" N, 100° 34' 25.07" E.
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Pratu Ho Rattana Chai had its mouth at the Front City Canal (Khu Khue Na). The canal ran south of Wat Prasat towards Wat Senasanaram, where it met Khlong Makham Riang and continued towards Pratu Khao Pluak in the Ayutthayan period. The canal is called by the locals Khlong Wat Prasat due to the vicinity of that temple. There is a modern water gate at its junction with the main river.(2) 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 Ratana 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, which has today a water regulator, has been altered. The original mouth of the canal 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.(3) The game was a re-enacting of an ancient method of catching wild elephants. A horse acts as bait to anger the elephants then leads them into a log trap. Upon the level ground, an elephant can overtake a horse upon ascent, the horse has the advantage.
References:
[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. pp. 168-9 / Source: Phra Cakkraphatdiphong - Rivalry of Phra Phet Racha and Chai Khan.