WAT PA SAK





Wat Pa Sak, or the Monastery of the Teak Quarter, is a restored ruin situated on Ayutthaya’s city island in the Pratu Chai Sub-district. (1) The site is located on the property of Ayutthaya Wittayalai School along the northern side of Rojana Road. Wat Pa Sak is one of the two temple ruins that are still visible at this school. The other one is Wat Saphan Nak.

Wat Pa Sak stood on the east bank of Khlong Pratu Thep Mi, (2) while a ditch was running on the south side. The ditch shows on Kaempfer's sketch, which is an indication that the temple could have been surrounded by water at earlier times.

The temple was in between Khlong Pratu Thep Mi and Khlong Pratu Jin. Wat Pa Rong stood in the west, Wat Mae Nang Muk was in the east, and Wat Saphan Nak was in the northwest opposite the Pratu Thep Mi Canal.

Architecture

The site consists of two structures: a mandapa (2) and a prang aligned in a rare north-south direction. The prang stands to the north of the mandapa. The temple’s ground plan cannot be discerned as the surroundings have been changed and replaced by the school's buildings.

The prang has been heavily eroded, and some stucco remains that give it a similar appearance as the prang of Wat Som. The stupa had several large holes dug into its sides by looters, significantly weakening its stability. Before its restoration in 2012 CE, the reliquary tower was prevented from toppling over by metal girders that hold it in place.

A monastic building, badly eroded, is situated to the south of the prang. The structure was built in a square plan with 9.4 metres in width and 9.4 metres in length. The building collapsed, and therefore only the high base supporting the thick wall can be seen today. Inside the building, there was a room 2 meters in width and 4 meters in length and an entrance in the west. The surrounding base was made of laid bricks. Several large holes were dug into the sides by looters. There is evidence that at least two restorations occurred and it is presumably a mandapa considering its architectural style.

Wat Pa Sak has a large number of damaged sandstone Buddha images on site. There is also a broken foundation stone or ‘bai sema’, which could be evidence of an ordination hall (ubosot) on the premises before.

Archaeological evidence presumed that the temple was constructed during the early or middle Ayutthaya period and underwent renovation in the late Ayutthaya period. The monastery was thus likely in use at the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 CE.

There is nothing known about the monastery’s history and year of establishment.

Wat Pa Sak was excavated by the Fine Arts department in 2001 CE. A Buddha image was found inside the prang, as well as a variety of pottery. A complete renovation of the site took place after the massive flooding of Ayutthaya in 2011.

Maps

Wat Pa Sak is not indicated on Englebert Kaempfer's sketch drafted in 1690 CE.

The monastery shows on a mid-19th century map of an unknown surveyor. Wat Pa Sak is indicated on the east bank of Pratu Thep Mi but close to the Wanon Bridge. Wat Noi stood in the southeast, Wat Yang in the northeast and Wat Jingjok west opposite the canal. There is no indication of a stupa.

On Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE, Wat Pa Sak appears south of a ditch (3) and west of a marshy area and Wat Mae Nang Muk. Wat Saphan Nak stands in the northwest and Wat Chatthan in the northeast. Wat Pa Rong stood opposite the Pratu Thep Mi Canal in the west. The ditch on the southside of Wat Pa Sak does not appear on the map. Phraya Boran (1871-1936 CE) was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE.

The Fine Arts Department announced the registration of Wat Pa Sak in the Royal Thai Government Gazette Vol. 58, No. 16, dated 18 March 1941.

The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 3.13" N, 100° 33' 58.23" E.

Footnotes:

(1) The word "pa" (ป่า) is usually 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 Pratu Thep Mi was a north-south running canal in Ayutthaya and an extension of the Lam Khu Pak Sa, starting at the earthenware pipes buried under Nak Bridge Road and having its mouth at the Thep Mi Gate near the confluence with the old Lopburi River.
(3) A manḍapa (derived from Sanskrit), meaning a pavilion, denotes a small square highly decorated structure with a pyramidal roof used to house minor images, relics or religious manuscripts or objects. The pyramidal upper part is formed by two or three roofing layers or usually topped with a spire section. Some mandapas were made of wooden roofing, decorated with wooden carvings, gilded and enriched with multi-colour glass mosaics. The mandapas in Thailand stand separate and are not part of a larger structure.
(4) A stretch of this ditch still can be found on the southside of Wat Saphan Nak the eastern part was filled up. Kaempfer does not have a ditch on his sketch, but more or less in the same area, a small road or path between Khlong Pratu Thep Mi and Chikun Road.




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.