Wat Pa Kho, or the Monastery of the Cattle Quarter, is an active temple in use by the Buddhist clergy (1). The temple is located off Ayutthaya's city island in the northeastern area, in the Hantra Sub-district at Ban Ko, formerly known as Ban Sala Khwian. Wat Pa Kho is situated at the mouth of Khlong Hantra (2) and its junction with the Pa Sak River.

The name of this temple hints at local economic activity. In the Ayutthaya era, the area was a place where cattle, mainly oxen and buffalos, was traded. De La Loubère wrote that in Siam, oxen and buffalos were employed in husbandry and used for tillage, while the cows were slaughtered, but the meat was very bad to eat. Milk was taken from the female buffalos, "which has more Cream, than the Milk of our Cows but they make not any sort of Cheese, and scarce any Butter". [2]

"They equally employ Oxen and Buffalo in Husbandry. They guide them with a Rope put through a hole which they make in the Cartilage that separates the Nostrils: And to the end that the Rope may not slip when they draw it, they do tie a knot on each side. This same Cord runs also through a hole, which is at the end of the draught Tree of their Plough." [3]

De La Loubère instructs us also on the races of oxen held in Ayutthaya and probably all over Siam.

"The running of Oxen is perform’d in this manner. They mark out a Plat of 500 Fathom in length, and two in breadth, with four Trunks, which are planted at the four Corners, to serve as Boundaries and it is round these Limits that the Course is run. In the middle of this place they erect a Scaffold for the Judges: and the more precisely to mark out the middle, which is the place from whence the Oxen were to start, they do plant a very high Post against the Scaffold. Sometimes ‘tis only a single Ox which runs against another, the one and the other being guided by two men running afoot, which do hold the Reins, or rather the String put into their Noses, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side and other Men are posted at certain distances, to ease those which run. But most frequently it is a Yoke of Oxen fasten’d to a Plough, which runs against another Yoke of Oxen joined to another Plough some Men guide them on the right side and on the left, as when it is only a single Ox which runs against another: But besides this, it is necessary that each Plough be so well sustained in the Air by a Man running, that it never touch the ground, for fear it retard the Animals that draw it and these men which thus support the Ploughs, are more frequently reliev’d than the others. Now tho’ the Ploughs run both after the same manner, turning always to the right round the space which I have described, they set not out from the same place. The one starts at one side of the scaffold, and the other at the other, to run reciprocally one after the other. Thus at the beginning of their Course they look from opposite places, and they are distant one from the other half a Circle, or half the space over which they were to run. Yet they run after the same manner, as I have said, turning several times round the four Boundaries, which I have mentioned, till the one overtakes the other. The Spectators are nevertheless all round, yet it is not necessary to have Bars to hinder from approaching too near. These Courses are sometimes the subject of Bettings, and the Lords do breed and train up small, but well-proportion’d Oxen for this Exercise and instead of Oxen, they do likewise make use of Buffalo’s." [4]

The skin of cattle was used in the water for making mortar. The Siamese boiled the water with a particular bark, skins of oxen or buffalos and sugar, creating a mortar of better quality than in the West. Buffalos or oxen were also used in warfare to draw artillery carts, as the large guns had no carriage.

Other cattle-related temples are Wat Khao Wua, aka Wat Kai Wua, situated in the northern sector of Ayutthaya and Wat Kho and Wat Wua / Wat Krabue on the city island, east of Khlong Nai Kai.

The historical background and period of construction of Wat Pa Kho are not known.

The monastery is in geographical coordinates: 14° 22' 29.57" N, 100° 34' 52.34" E.


(1) The word "pa" (ป่า) is normally translated as "forest", but in the Ayutthaya era, it also indicated a place where specific products were made and/or sold. Chris Baker translates it as "a quarter". [1]

(2) Khlong Hantra flows through the sub-district of the same name and is formerly referred to as Thung Hantra or Hantra Fields. This canal was once a stretch of the Pa Sak River, meandering around the former Ban Ma (Horse village) east of Ayutthaya. When the latter was diverted towards the Front city moat at some stage, the old riverbed was divided up into different canals: Khlong Hantra (from Wat Pa Kho till Wat Krasang), Khlong Kramang (from Wat Krasang till the entry of Khlong Doem), Khlong Dusit (called after Wat Dusit on its west bank) and Khlong Khao San (with its mouth at the present Pa Sak River, being the southern end of the former Front moat). Khlong Hantra was one of the most important former canals, east of Ayutthaya, bordering the ancient Ayothya area.


[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. p 49.

[2] Loubère, Simon (de la) (1693). A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam (2 Tomes). London. Edited by John Villiers. Bangkok: White Lotus, 1986.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.