PRESS FOCUS - OLDER POSTS
2000

Remnants of Ayutthaya discovered in Burma  

06 August 2000 - MOST Thais consider the final fall of Ayutthaya one of the country's most humiliating defeats. Many would rather not even think
about it, while others continue to hate the Burmese for the invasion that wiped out what was once one of the most prosperous and beautiful cities in
Asia.  Ask Thammasat University historian Kwandee Attawavutichai about it, however, and you'll definitely hear a different version of the story.  For
the past year, Kwandee has been searching for descendants of the 30,000 Thais (or, as they were then known, Siamese) who were taken back to
Burma as prisoners of war 233 years ago. The second to last king of Ayutthaya was thought to be among them. King Uthumporn was ordained as a
monk but was taken back to Burma nonetheless.  The first group she met reside in Mandalay. They dress like Burmese and none  of them speak
Thai.  Asked what struck her the most about these people, Kwandee mentioned their  facial composition, which is distinct from that of other
Burmese; the fact  that they still tell their offspring that their ancestors came from  Ayutthaya and that they're proud of it; and the way the women tie
up their  hair, which she described as quite unique.  Some traditional rituals, such as making sand stupa, are still practised.  These rituals are
conducted during Visakha Puja Days and not Songkran, as in  Thailand today.  Residents also recall the name of a village named Reuhaing, which
may be a  corrupt pronunciation of Rahaeng, a village in Tak province.  Many residents are still goldsmiths, a profession widely known and practised  
in the Ayutthaya period.  Kwandee said she's certain of their origin from their gold patterns and  motifs, which are definitely not Burmese.  What's
more, some of them even call themselves Yodhaya people, meaning  Ayutthayan in Burmese.  
Kwandee also discovered what might be the ruin
of a brick stupa marking the  death of a member of the Ayutthaya royal family.
The stupa and its  inscription are too ornate and beautiful to
be a lay person's, she said.  Others suggest it might be a stupa to commemorate the bicentennial of those  who were taken from Ayutthaya. Some
villagers volunteered to draw a sketch  of how the stupa once looked, and to Kwandee it resembled a royal coffin,  with its reversed vertical cone
shape.  Kwandee later said it was not King Uthumporn's tomb because he died while he  was a practising monk and the Burmese practice is to
cremate monks rather  than bury them as they do lay people. Who this seemingly royal tomb was  dedicated too remains a mystery.  An elderly
woman in an area called Yodayaweng told Kwandee that her ancestor  was a classical dancer for the court of Ayutthaya and played the role of  
Hanuman, or monkey king, in the Ramayana epic. In that community, a small  shrine with four Siamese classical puppet masks were found.  There's
also another community called Mindasu, which can be translated as  the abode of princes and princesses.  Kwandee suspects this is a place where
descendants of the Ayutthaya royals  live.  Other Burmese call them ajintor, which means "my noble friends". Some said  their great-grandparents
were princes of Ayutthaya but didn't know which  ones. They still practise dance and keep some lyrics which are quite  Siamese.  "The Yodhaya
blood still runs vigorously in all my veins and arteries," said  a doctor by the name of Thinh Hmong.  [Source: The Nation - Writer: Pennapa
Hongthong]