Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Fine and Applied Arts of King Narai Festival and the Perception of Lopburism

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Fine and Applied Arts of King Narai Festival and the Perception of Lopburism

Article excerpt

Abstract

The King Narai Festival of Lopburi Province is a long-standing tradition that has enabled the development of the provincial identity. This research had two primary aims: to study the background and development of the King Narai Festival in Lopburi Province and to analytically study, select and present the concept of Lopburism in the fine arts activities of the light and sound shows of the King Narai Festival. The research found that the event has been held twenty-six times in a thirty-three year period since 1979. The analysis of the development of the King Narai Festival in Lopburi Province can be divided into four time periods: introduction, improvement, identity creation and value increase. The activities during the festival are able to create unity and an identity for the event and can reveal and provide deep knowledge of the essence of Lopburi people. This essence, Lopburism, can be summarized as follows: a) belief in, respect for, faith in and worship of King Narai the Great; b) the lifestyle and existence of Lopburi people during the era of King Narai the Great; c) important events during the era of King Narai the Great, including the people with important roles during the time. The explanations given in this paper show the selection process and production of activities during the King Narai Festival for presenting the identity of Lopburism.

Keywords: Lopburism, King Narai the Great, festival, fine and applied arts, identity

1. Introduction

Lopburi is a city with a long history that has passed through many stages of progression. It was the second most important city during the reign of King Narai, complete with modern academia and was the most advanced city of the time. Nowadays, Lopburi is known throughout the world for its variety in history, beautiful ancient ruins and interesting legends. It is a province in the Central region of Thailand on the left banks of the Lopburi River, covering 6,198.558 km2 (Office of Planning and Projects, 1987, p. 30). Lopburi is a city with a variety of continuous history for over three thousand years. It is an ancient territory with a long history from prehistory to the modern day. In the past, during the twelfth Buddhist century, Lopburi was known as Lawo or Lavapura (Lawabura). It was an important city on the East of the Chao Phraya River because the surrounding environment was suitable and it could be connected by river and over land. This caused Lopburi to become an important location for foreign trade and export, as well as a Buddhist center. Particularly important was trade with the Kingdom of Cambodia, which was an important center of power at the time. This allowed the Cambodian art and culture to enter Lopburi and influence different areas of development, thus transforming Lopburi into a more advanced city than those surrounding it along the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

At the time of King Uthong, the first ruler of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Lopburi was a Loog-Luang city, which meant that King Uthong allowed his first son, Ramesuan to rule. In 1350, Ramesuan began creating a fortress, mote bank and secure city wall. When King Uthong passed away in 1369, Ramesuan was deposed as King of Ayutthaya by Borommaracha I but retained rule of Lopburi until 1388. When Borommaracha I passed away, Ramesuan was once again named as King of Ayutthaya, causing Lopburi to lose its importance. This remained until the rule of King Narai the Great (1656-1688), when Lopburi underwent intensive maintenance to stave off the threat of Dutch trade. This made King Narai realize that Ayutthaya was not immune to enemy siege and war and so Lopburi was named as the second city of the kingdom due to its strategic features.

For this remodeling of Lopburi by King Narai the Great, the help of French and Italian nationals was enlisted and a royal palace and fortress were built to strengthen and protect the city. After this, King Narai the Great spent most of his time at Lopburi. …

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