CHIKUN BRIDGE (สะพานชีกุน)
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - October 2009
Updated April 2013, September 2013, December 2013
Saphan Chikun or the Chikun Bridge is located on Ayutthaya's city island in Pratu
Chai Sub-district.

The brick bridge was built over
Khlong Pratu Jin (called Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak in the
northern stretch) which connected the old
Lopburi River (later Khlong Mueang or City
Canal) in the north (near
Wat Tha Sai) with the Chao Phraya River in the south at Pratu
Jin.

This canal was filled in the last century and as thus at present inexistent, with the
exception of a small stretch of water between Wat Tha Sai and
Wat Racha Praditsathan
- close to its former mouth, called Pratu Khao Pluak. Only some brick work of the
former bridges remain as a last witness of the past.

At par with the area near the
Talat Jin Bridge, the Chikun location (at least east of the
main canal) was also Chinese. Chinese merchants sold fire-crackers, spirits and palm
wine. [1] Chikun was also the location of the Brahman shrines and the residence of the
Brahmin priests from 1636 onwards, after King Prasat Thong ordered the relocation of
the shrine.

At the western end of the Chikun Bridge, Khaek (1) sat in shops selling wrist and ankle
bangles, hairpins, rings, maklam-head rings (2), luk kaeo rings & bead rings and all kinds
of ornaments of brass and lead. [2]

Brickwork of the Chikun Bridge can still be seen in situ. The site is located on Chikun
road, south of the roundabout in central Ayutthaya and north of the brickwork of the
Talat Jin Bridge.

Is this brickwork really a remnant of the Chikun Bridge?

A 1957 Fine Arts Department map shows the Chikun Bridge on the east side of Chikun
Rd. This brickwork, indicated by the Fine Arts Department as being the foundations of
the Chikun Bridge, is however not in a straight line with the brickwork of the
Pa Than
and Talat Jin bridges.

As
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak - Pratu Jin is a man-made canal, identical to Khlong Tho -
Khlong Chakrai Yai and Khlong Nai Kai (Makham Riang) it would be rather strange if
this canal would have got an offset of nearly 70 meters to the west in the area of the
present roundabout despite that the origin and mouth of the canal are situated roughly
within a straight line.

Moreover, the Chikun bridge stood in the extension of the Talaeng Kaeng Street and
crossed the Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak - Khlong Pratu Jin into Pa Thon Street. If we
draw a straight line from the brickwork in western direction, we hit today's
Lak Mueang
shrine. In this case the old Talaeng Kaeng road must have been situated just below the
eastern canal extension of Khlong Chakrai Noi, thus south of this E-W canal. This
contradicts the Kaempfer and Bellin maps, which indicate clearly this road north of the
E-W canal. The position of this brickwork conflicts as thus with the geographic position
of the Chikun Bridge. In my opinion the so-called Chikun Bridge brickwork is a remnant
of
Wat Chatthan or more likely the Wat Chatthan Bridge (3).

Footnotes:

(1) "Khaek" (Thai language) is a foreigner from the Arabian sub-continent, the Indian
sub-continent, Malaysia or Indonesia.
(2) Chris Baker comments that maklam, is a plant with red berries, so possibly this was
a ring with a cluster of red stones. Makhlam or Adenanthera Pavonina is a species of
tree, used for its timber and also known as Red Sandalwood. The tree has beautiful
seeds and are used as beads for jewelry. The beads have long been a symbol of love in
China. [Wikipedia - data retrieved 6 April 2013]
(3) The Wat Chatthan Bridge was one of the fifteen brick bridges mentioned in the old
document "Khamhaikan Khun Luang Ha Wat" (Testimony of the king who entered a
wat).

References:  

[1] Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - page 149.
[2] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 61.
Remnants of the Chikun Bridge
(Remnants of the Chikun Bridge)
Chikun Bridge on a 1957 Fine Arts Department map
(Chikun Bridge on a 1957 Fine Arts Department map)