Prachinburi - National Museum
Prachinburi must rank amongst the most 'provincial' of towns in Thailand. It is located some 140 km east of Bangkok. While the present day town does not have a lot to offer to visitors, the surrounding area has a rich history going back to the Dvaravati (7-11th century) and early Khmer period.
Buddha image in meditation posture. Dvaravati period from Si Mahosot. Presently at Prachinburi National Museum.
Si Mahosot (excavation site located some 20 km out of Prachinburi) was an important ancient town during the Dvaravati period, connected to Lavo (Lopburi) and other eastern towns in the Chao Phraya river basin. The present excavation site is not a really overwhelming experience. A Buddha footprint from the Dvaravati period is present, and closeby an interesting ancient pond (Sa Kaew) with carvings of animal figures along the edges.
Sa Kaew, at Si Mahosot archaeologic site. Some animal figures (not shown here) are present carved along the edges of the pond. Dating back to the Dvaravati period.
The Prachinburi National Museum is certainly worth a visit. As quite a few of the local 'provincial' museums it has a very nice collection. The National Museum of Prachinburi has sculptures found in the area (Si Mahosot) but also important lintels from Prasat Khao Noi, located in the forest close to Aranyaprathet.
The scuptures present are various Dvaravati period (and well preserved) Buddha images, as well as sculptures of Hindu deities.
Buddha image (Vitarka posture) - Dvaravati period - Found at Si Mahosot.
A nuisance is that at the National Museums it is not allowed to take pictures. One can however ask for permission from 'authorities'. It so happens that we contacted the National Museum in Bangkok, and then directly the museum at Prachinburi to ask for permission, and were told on both occasions that there would be no problem at all. However when proceeding with our camera amongst the various statues and lintels, we were told that taking pictures was not permitted. Personally, we think that this issue should be resolved to the benefit of visitors at all museums. It so happens that mostly there are not many visitors (so one is not a nuisance for other visitors), and present day cameras do not seem to need the use of flash to take reasonable pictures (assuming that flash photography does damage to the sculptures).
Really well preserved lintels from Prasat Khao Noi are present (of course, from the Khmer period).
Lintel detail : Indra mounted on Airavata - Khmer period (11th century) - Found in Prachinburi province.
In Prachinburi town itself, an interesting temple compound is Wat Kaew Phichit. As far as we know, this wat has no particular special religious significance. However, the architecture is quite particular, a mixture of Thai, Chinese, Cambodian and European styles. The temple is located within walking distance to the local hospital. Adjacent to the hospital is also the Chao Phraya Abhai Bhubet Mansion. At present, this European style mansion has become a Thai traditional medicine museum housing herbs and healing products made of locally grown medicinal plants. There is a shop located at the hospital where there is a very active trade in Thai herbal medicine.
Building at Wat Kaew Phichit, Prachinburi