WAT PHRA NGAM (1)





Wat Phra Ngam, or the Monastery of the Beautiful Buddha, was located on Ayutthaya's city island in the south of the city in Pratu Chai Sub-district. The monastery was situated on the banks of Khlong Pa Mo (1) and Khlong Chakrai Noi (2). Wat Jingjok was north, Wat Singharam south and Wat Am Mae east.


There are no traces anymore visible of the monastery above ground level.


The exact location is presently challenging to determine as maps give slightly different areas for this monastery.


Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown.


The name of the temple features in the old documents and stated that near Wat Phra Ngam on White-clay Quarter Road, there were shops selling white-clay powder made from old marble and white, yellow, and black white-clay powder. (3)


Wat Phra Ngam om the maps:


Wat Phra Ngam shows on Kaempfer’s sketch. Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716 CE) was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE. The temple is situated north of Khlong Pa Mo and east of Khlong Chakrai Noi, in fact near the junction of both canals and close to the White Clay Village Bridge (Taphan Ban Dinso).


The site is indicated on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE. The monastery is in an identical position as on the 19th-century map and in a location named Thung Khaek (4). Wat Jingjok was north, a structure called Khok Khaek and Wat Am Mae east, Wat Singharam south. On the south side of the monastery was White Clay Village Road, also called Wat Phra Ngam Road. 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.

Wat Phra Ngam is found on a 2007 Fine Arts Department (FAD) map but shows the position of the Lion Bridge (Saphan Singh), another denomination for the White Clay Village Bridge. I presume the Fine Arts Department found no traces of the defunct monastery.


Wat Phra Ngam was in approximative geographical coordinates: 14° 20' 54.19" N, 100° 33' 42.46" E.


Footnotes:


(1) Khlong Pa Mo, or the Pot Quarter Canal, is a defunct canal. It was an eastward extension of Khlong Tha Phra and started at the latter's confluence with Khlong Chakrai Yai. Beyond this confluence, it continued in an eastern direction as Khlong Pa Mo and joined the Pratu Thep Mi Canal. There is evidence that this canal continued eastwards in a straight line to join Khlong Makham Riang.(2) Khlong Chakrai Noi is a defunct canal of which some small stretches remain on the premises of the Rajaphat Institute, south of Rojana Road. The premises of the Sam Chao Phraya Museum also show a stretch of water, but here the old canal has been probably altered. Khlong Chakrai Noi had its mouth in the loop of the old Lopburi River around the city, a stretch that became the Chao Phraya River in the 19th century due to deviation works.(3) Chris Baker notes ‘dinso’: a powder made from white clay, used in writing and applied to the body like talcum for cooling and whitening. [1](4) ‘Thung’ means field while ‘khaek’ is a term for foreigners from some countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Arabs, except Jews. I presume this area is Muslim.


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. p. 62.