Monday, October 31, 2011

fragments of the golden past

fragments of the golden past

When my Uncle Thet offered to drive us to Ayutthaya, I was filled with excitement. For, the capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350-1767) or Siam is close to my heart, not least because I remain a close follower of Asian history. I was going to have a chance to explore this UNESCO site first hand!
The founding of the city in 1350 ushered in an era in which Siam's position in the mainland South East Asia was consolidated. Their influence rose in the region, especially in the north and the east. Commerce and arts flourished. Unfortunately, this profound city of the Sound East was also under military threat for the better part of its period from their powerful neighbour from the west, Burma.

The famous city fell for the first time to the empire of Burmese King Bayinnaung in 1564, who put a royalty of Siam on the throne as a vassal. Curiously though, Bayinnaung remains a popular figure among Thais to this day, as characterized by the famous Thai historical fiction "ผู้ชนะสิบทิศ" or "Puchana Sib Tid" (media snapshot). Ayutthaya regained its independence soon after the passing of Bayinnaung, and resumed the state of intermittent conflicts with its powerful neighbour.

The Burmese-Siamese war (1765-1767) was terminal for Ayutthaya, both as a city and as a kingdom as a whole. The city was reduced to rubble by the invading Burmese forces this time whose intent was a complete annihilation. With its capital in ruin and the territory taken, the Ayutthaya Kingdom as had been known hitherto was no longer. Nor would it ever rise again in history. (The subsequently resurgent Siam based its capital in the present capital Bangkok instead, with the dynasty, whose lastest king still sits on the throne of Thailand today.)

The Wat
Wat Chaiwatthanaram as pictured is one of the prominent landmarks of the city since its completion in 1630. The style is distinctly khmer. It is where the royalties performed religious ceremonies during the Ayutthaya period. The temple also went into ruins with the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767.

My visit
All these, I got to know only retrospectively since I was not prepared for a trip to Ayutthaya which came impromptu. I recorded whatever my good uncle was kind enough to take us to, and did the reading afterward. The pictures I took were important for my record such as this one.

The time was an unflattering midday, and the subject back-lit. I used a 3-stop graduated ND filter to darken the sky. Even that was not quite enough to control the sky, so I did highlight-recovery in the post-processing (which might dilute the look of realism a bit?).

Whenever I look at this image, it brings some unknown historical imaginations in my mind. I wish to visit this glorious spot once again for a more thorough exploration. The current flooding in the region may sadly affect the local economy, but I believe it cannot rob the ancient temple off its significance in Siam's illustrious past.

To the victims of the flood...!

Location: Ayutthaya, Thailand
Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
ISO: 200
Exposure: 1/800s
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 18mm
Filter: Gradual gray ND8
Flash: No
Tripod: No

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such wonderful information! I was in Thailand too, but I was in the city of Chiang Mai, which is located in the north of the country. To explore thoroughly all the secret places, I had to rent a scooter here plus this service has advised to me, what I may look in the city and on outskirts.