Chinese Architectural Heritage on the West Coast of Southern Thailand

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Suthi Wongmongkondate

Abstract

         This article is a part of a dissertation entitled “Chinese Heritage on the West Coast of Southern Thailand: A Holistic Approach to Identification and Conservation”.  Chinese architectural heritage on the West Coast or the Andaman Sea Coast of Southern Thailand has a long history and has great significance, namely, Chinese shophouses, shrines, and tombs. Case studies include Chinese shophouses in Takuapa old town, Phang-nga province; Mazhu or Ma Zhor Po Shrine in Phang-nga city; Sang Tham Shrine in Phuket old town; Kew Hong Ear Shrine in Tubtiang Town or Trang city; and Khaw Su Jiang’s Tomb in Ranong city area. The aim of this study is to explore Chinese heritage as well as the backgrounds of their communities.


         The two-storey Chinese shophouses in Takuapa old town were built more than one hundred years and are unique and different from other places. Ma Zhor Po Shrine in Phang-nga city has mural paintings which depict several stories of legendary Chinese folk heroes and popular Chinese stories, such as Hongsin or the Creation of the Gods and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Sang Tham Shrine in Phuket old towns is famous for its roof decorated in style popular in Southern China, and the interior mural paintings depict the story of Xue Ren Gui, a legendary Chinese folk hero of the Tang Dynasty. Ma Zhor Po and Sang Tham Shrines were built for over one hundred years ago. These two Chinese shrines and Kew Hong Ear Shrine in Trang city had been constructed by using traditional building techniques of Southern China. Kew Hong Ear Shrine has a sky well at the centre bringing light and ventilation into the shrine, while Khaw Su Jiang’s Tomb or the First Governor of Ranong’s Tomb in Ranong city has existed for over one hundred years and was designed based on Fengshui Principles with unique characteristics differing from other tombs.


         The finding is that Chinese people came to settle in this area for over one hundred years. They came from Hokkien or Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan provinces in Southern China. They popularly depicted legendary Chinese folk heroes in mural paintings of Chinese shrines while applied traditional building techniques of Southern China and belief in Fengshui Principles in order to preserve their Chinese identity and pass the community heritage on to future generations.

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