|WAT PHRA SRI SANPHET BY TACHARD
|Extract of Guy Tachard's "A Relation of the Voyage to Siam", originally published in 1688. Orchid Press (Bangkok) reprinted the old book under its
"Iteneraria Asiatica", a series of reprints of books containing first-hand descriptions and narratives by travelers in Asia.
|Web page by Tricky Vandenberg - February 2011
|Guy Tachard (Marthon 1651 - Chandernagor 1712), also known as Le Père Tachard, was a
French Jesuit missionary and mathematician. He was sent on two French embassies to the Kingdom
of Siam by Louis XIV.
The text here under is an account of his visit to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet on the occassion of his first
sejourn to Siam from October till December 1685.
|The Ambassador had been told so, much of the Pagod of the Palace, and of the Idols that are in it, that he had a great mind to see them; and
seeing in everything they were ready to please him, a proper day was pitched upon, when they might be all shown to him at leisure, about eight a
clock in the Morning he was conducted to the Palace, where the Lord Constance expected him. Having crossed over eight or nine courts, we came
at length to the Richest and most celebrated Pagod of the Kingdom, it is covered with Calin, which is a kind of a very white Metal betwixt Tin and
Lead, with three Roofs one over another. At the door of it, there is on the one hand a Cow, and on the other a most hideous Monster. This Pagod
is pretty long, but very narrow, and when one is within it, there is nothing to be seen but Gold. The Pillars, Walls, Ceiling and all the Figures are
so well gilt, that, all seem to be covered with plates of Gold. The building, is pretty like to our Churches, and supported by thick Pillars.
Advancing forward within it you find a kind of Altar upon which there are three or four Figures of beaten Gold near about the height of a Man;
some of them stand, and others are sitting cross-legged after the manner of the Siamese. Beyond that there a kind of Quire, where they keep the
richest and most precious Pagod or Idol of the Kingdom, for that is a name given indifferently to the Temple or the Idol that is within it. That
Statue is standing and the head of it reaches up to the Roof.
It is about five and forty foot high and seven or eight broad; but what is most surprising, it is full of Gold. Of the bigness it is, the Mass of it must
needs contain above an hundred picks of that Metal, and be worth at least twelve Millions fix hundred thousand Livers. They say that this
Prodigious Colossus was cast in the same place where it stands, and that afterwards they built the temple over it. It cannot be comprehended,
where those people otherwise poor enough could find so much Gold; but it must needs touch one to the quick to see one single Idol richer than all
the Tabernacles of the Churches of Europe. At the sides of it there are several others less but of Gold also and enriched with precious Stones.
However this not the best built Temple of Siam. It is true there are none that have any Figures of so great value, but there are Several that have
greater proportion, and Beauty and one amongst others which I must here give a description of.
 Voyage to Siam (1685) - Guy Tachard - Orchid Press, Bangkok (1999) - Pages 180 - 181.
|(1625-1713) - Vatican Library