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Museum of Local Wisdom, Wat Samakkeetham  
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Museum of Local Wisdom, Wat Samakkeetham
By: (1127) | Date: May 19, 2014

                   After the current abbot of Wat Samakkeetham moved here in 1965, he started to collect local things. A lot of the things he collected were offered by his disciples and believers; some were acquired by himself. Realizing that those native things were fast disappearing, the abbot therefore wished to conserve them for generations to come. He made known his intention in a statement he wrote in the registration book of the museum exhibits:
 
                   “From the time I was a child until now, common local things that we were so accustomed to seeing around us have been disappearing, and also replaced by newer, more modern ones. It is a pity because these traditional things were invented by our fore-fathers out of their need to adapt themselves to the surrounding environment. These things of the past, locally made, are nevertheless still useful today. One good thing about them is that they were made of cheap materials that could be found or acquired right here in our natural surroundings – no need to buy them in the market or from overseas. They cost very little, sometimes nothing, to make, and yet they were very useful, handy and versatile. As such, they could be regarded as being good lessons for our children about our own folk arts and crafts. We therefore should conserve them. I hope that all the items I have tried to accumulate over the years will be a legacy for our future society, and that our younger generations would find them very useful too. I thank all who have helped me with the task, as well as those who donated their things for this good cause.”
 
                   No information is available as to when exactly the museum was first opened to the public. The abbot started collecting things in 1965. But in the registration book done by some Rajabhat University students (whose locations of studies were not mentioned), it was stated that they did the systematized registration by taking photos of the exhibits and explaining what they were. The photos and explanatory notes were put in a file, in 2004. This means that the museum must have been known for some time before the students arrived.
 
                   The display layout is interestingly different from the usual museum layout. There are 3 display zones. The first is a spacious structure, open on all sides, and fully made use of, as a lot of displayed items are hanging down from the roof beams. They are local wickerware tools and devices for catching fish, also for other household uses. These include, for example, bamboo lanterns (tubes containing oil, used in searching for frogs at night), woven bamboo baskets for nappies, ab-dum (tobacco boxes), khan mak (betel sets), kra-chon (sieves for scooping up rice noodles/kanom chine), kra-tor (tube-shaped woven bamboo utensils with round curved bottoms and 2 handles), dug boats made from whole tree trunks (for paddling to search for crabs and fish in the streams). There are different types of fish traps – lua, jan, soom, sai, lob, etc. Then there are creels for keeping caught fish, and ngong (called sara-oh in the Central region, around Ayutthaya) for cutting into the mire to look for spiny eels, etc.
 
                   Zone 2 shares the space with Zone 1. The 2 zones are separated by a steel folding door. On display are threshing tools – hand-operated threshers, and large mortars for pounding unhusked grains. The tools are shown not individually, but in a realistic, ready-to-use, setting . Unfortunately, on the day of our visit a few hens were nesting there. Other than the hens there were some tables and chairs. The rest of the space was the display area.
 
                   The last zone is a separate building. Similar to Zone 1, the ground floor space is fully made use of, with the displays hanging from the beams. There is quite a variety here starting with instrument for weaving silk and cotton: nai (spinning wheels), kra-suey/kan-suey (shuttles), piak (containers for fluffy cotton), feum (reeds), kra-dong (flat, round bamboo trays for nursing silk worms). The next group consists of tools used in farming such as sieves for winnowing rice husks, sticks for threshing grains, and rakes. Next is some common tools and devices for household work and hunting e.g. mouse traps, dove traps, boam (round wooden trays for steamed sticky rice), kra-boom for clothes, dried gourd shells for drinking water, storm lanterns, huad (rice steamers), jan (fish/crab traps), tai (flaming torches), mai kaan (shoulder poles for carrying baskets), rice steamers, earthen pots, babies’ hammocks, and farmers’ bamboo hats. In the next group of displays there are traditional things used for some special festivities including musical instruments, particularly several types of drums – long drums, tone, rammana and kao kwai. The last group features ancient artifacts from Ban Nong Ngong – mainly temple boundary stone markers found scattered in the area called Good Ngong, which is not very far from the temple. These stones are calculated to be from the Dvaravati time, or around 1,000 years ago.
 
                   The museum is cared for by Wat Samakkeetham. The exhibits were mostly offerings to the abbot from the disciples and their fellow folks. The registration was done on 2-28 April 2004 by a Rajabhat University student team who at that time was doing a project “Learning Together, Building a Strong Community.” They took pictures of the exhibits and did the inventory. The abbot had 115 pieces registered by himself. (The total number of the exhibits should be more than the sum already registered.)
 
Writer: Phiphat Krajaejan
Field work survey: September 13, 2013
Interview :  Phra Kru Prasitthichaiyakhun, 78, on 13 September 2013          

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  Museum of Local Wisdom, Wat Samakkeetham  
: Wat Samakkeetham, Ban Huana, Tambon BuangKla, Mueang District, Chaiyaphum
: 087-254-2813 พระครูประสิทธิชัยคุณ
: -
: Daily
: free admission
: -
: -
: 2004
: -
Management : monastery
Story : local wisdom
Status : Open
Update Apr 28, 2014
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