Text & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - April 2016
(Detail of Engelbert Kaempfer's draft map - Anno
Detail of Engelbert Kaempfer's draft map - Anno 1690
Ho Klong was a drum tower of about 55 meters high, consisting of three stories with
each a drum. The tower stood in the center of the city of Ayutthaya on Talaeng Kaeng
road (Four Ways Road). Its roof was arched and painted red. The drums were beaten
to warn the population in case of fire, signal the approach of enemies or summon people
for meetings.  

Each storey had its function. Phra Thiwaratri, the drum on the first storey, was beaten to
mark noon and to call up people for a public meeting at dusk according to the customs of
the city.

When fire was spotted the drum called Phra Maha Rangap-phloeng on the middle storey
was sounded. If a fire occurred outside the city, Phra Maha Rangap-phloeng was beaten
three times. If the fire occurred at the foot of the city walls or in the city itself the drum
was beaten until the fire was extinguished.

The highest storey was used to keep watch for enemy approaching, on which the drum
called Phra Maha Ruek was beaten.

The tower was manned by city officials who had also the task the maintain the drums. A
number of cats were kept by the staff at the tower to avoid rodents gnawing the large
drums. To feed the cats the staff collected a small fee (five cowries) from the shops at the
market in front of the jail in order to buy grilled fish. The drum tower stood south of the

The Ho Klong was sacred and possessed by a guardian spirit called Jao Ket (a
Brahmanical deity to whom offerings were made when evils were to be averted or
success sought. The Jao Ket was a  true spirit (phi), customary created by burying a
suitable individual alive under the foundations of the drum tower, to serve as a guardian
angel. Today we find
Wat Ket near the location of the former drum tower.

The drum tower was due to its height a landmark of the city. The location of the tower
can be found on Engelbert Kaempfer's map drafted in 1690 and a depiction of it, can be
found on Johannes Vingboons map dating from 1665.


[1] Pongsripian, Vinai Dr. - Phanna phumisathan Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya: Ekasan
jak Ho Luang - Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace -
Bangkok, Usakane, n. d. (2007).
[2] Wales, Quaritch H.G. - Siamese State Ceremonies - Their history and function -  
London, Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1931 - page 103.