SAN PHRA KAN (สาลประกาฬ)
San Phra Kan seen from the east
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - October 2009
Reviewed August 2010, April 2013
San Phra Kan seen from the north
San Phra Kan seen from the west
(San Phra Kan seen from the east)
(San Phra Kan seen from the north)
(San Phra Kan seen from the west)
Phra Kan shrine from the south
San Phra Kan from the east
(San Phra Kan from the east)
(Phra Kan shrine from the south)
San Phra Kan, a former Brahmin shrine, is located on the city island in the central area
of Ayutthaya in Pratu Chai Sub-district. On its north stands the City Pillar or
Lak
Mueang, while on its south was Wat Pa Phai (no traces anymore).

In situ are newly built rectangular brick foundations indicating the former spot were the
shrine was situated. The archaeological division of the Silpakon University excavated the
spot in 1969. A Khmer prang with arches in the four cardinal directions was found as
also the statues of Phra Isuan (Shiva), Phra Narai (Vishnu) and Phra Ganesh (Ganesha).
These findings led to the conclusion that this site was a Brahmin shrine in former times.

We read in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya:
"During 998 of the era, a year of the
rat, eight of the decade, the Supreme-Holy-Buddhist-Lord-Omnipotent had the
shrine of the Holy Isuan and Holy Narai moved on up and located at Chikun."
[1]  
indicating that King Prasat Thong (r. 1629-1656) moved this shrine to the Chikun area
(see Thewa Sathan) in 1636.

From that time onwards the site was used as a Buddhist religious structure. A vihara was
built in the front of the prang. During excavations last century a Buddha statue and
miscellaneous pottery and utensils were found.

The site is mentioned on
Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926.

The exact date of the construction of the Brahmin shrine is unknown, but due to its
location - in the center of the old city - it could have been located there since the
establishment of Ayutthaya in 1351.

The old records from the Ayutthaya period refer to Phra Sua Mueang, Phra Song
Mueang and Phra Kan as the guardian deities of the old City of Ayutthaya (4). San Phra
Kan was probably the place where these city guardian deities were worshipped. In the
"Short History of the Kings of Siam 1640",  the Dutch VOC merchant Jeremias Van
Vliet recounts a story in which these important city guardian spirits were mentioned. Van
Vliet sets the story during the reign of Ramathibodi II (r. 1491-1529) in which a King on
the Coromandel Coast in Ramaradt (The Thai version of this tale speaks of Benares -
India and Ramathibodhi I) put a spell on the Siamese King. Here under an extract of the
text.

"His Majesty had his mandarins and all foreign interpreters summoned and
commanded them to ask these strangers how, whence, and why they had come.
They answered: "Have the king first release us, then we will tell everything
truthfully." His Majesty commanded that they be brought to the following angels:
Phra Trong Muang, Phra Cena Muang, and Phra Canoolij at the Pratu Chai, that
is, the Heart Gate, where (so claim the Siamese) many angels lived, and that they
should honor them in the Siamese way in order that through their prayers they
might be freed."
[2]

In the Late Ayutthaya period there were shops selling heads and skeletons of cotton
spinning situated on the road in front of San Phra Kan. [3]

The site is situated in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 5.89" N, 100° 33' 35.98" E.

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 220 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph.
[2] Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan &
David K. Wyatt (2005) - Page 210.
[3] 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 62.
Pra Maha Wikinet, a son of Pra Insuan held in great esteem by Siamese physicians
Pra In Suan riding an ox and holding a trident
Pra Narai four armed riding Krut, the younger brother of Pra In Suan
(Pra Narai four armed riding Krut, the
younger brother of Pra In Suan)
(Pra Maha Wikinet, a son of Pra Insuan
held in great esteem by Siamese
physicians)
(Pra In Suan riding an ox and holding a
trident)