Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1910 Siam. k̄ĥārāchs̄ảnạk
Subject: ข้าราชสำนัก royal courtier
Culture: Siamese/Thai
Setting: nationalist period, Siam late 19th-early 20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Baker/Phongpaichit 2005 p104
"Over the second half of the nineteenth century, the conversion of the traditional 'port and fort' city into a colonial port and national capital brought into being new social forces.  The great families of the service bureaucracy, and the great families of the junk-trading and tax-farming jao sua, were converted into the new bureaucratic elite of the royalist nation-state."

* Baker/Phongpaichit 2005 p96-97
"From the start of the twentieth century, the city and its society were reshaped by its new role as capital of a nation-state.  Under the new centralized structure, revenues flowed into the ministries located in the capital, and power flowed outwards.  The number of salaried officials grew from 12,000 in 1890 to 80,000 in 1919.  In 1916 the Civil Service School was combined with other institutions into Chulalongkorn University, which became the main avenue into the senior bureaucracy.  ...
    ​"The senior bureaucracy was the elite of this new government city.  At its core were members of the royal and noble families who were cajoled by Chulalongkorn into adopting official careers.  In effect, official salaries became the solution to the problem of supporting the rapidly spreading pyramid of the royal clan.  In this era, senior official salaries were enough to support a whole household, while old habits of living off the profits of office also lingered.  Provincial rulers and great families were also urged to send their sons to the new schools and colleges, as part of cementing their loyalty to the new nation-state."

* Ruth 2021 p65
"In 1874, .... [t]hough still young and vulnerable, Chulalongkorn acted to strengthen his control over the kingdom by reforming the Siamese government's vital elements.  In May of that year, he created two governmental bodies designed to give him more control over Siam's resources and administration: a State Council and a Privy Council into which he drew younger and more loyal supporters than those who had come to dominate senior positions at court.  He hoped that this new group would help him stand up to the old guard that controlled state matters during his minority.  The State Council's principal mission was assisting him in overhauling two critical areas, taxation and human labor.  The State Council helped Chulalongkorn draft new laws and assess existing systems more in line with the ones he had learned about while traveling abroad.  With these changes, he began marshaling his power and initiating the process by which he would transform the Siamese court into something more like a modern Western government.  All the changes they made removed power, money, and labor from the control of various princes, lords, and nobles who diluted Chulalongkorn's authority.  Chulalongkorn and his council placed that power and wealth more squarely under the control of the monarch as the unrivaled center of the kingdom."


* Conway 2002 p139
"The most significant Siamese item of clothing (as opposed to Euro-Siamese), was the gold coat that formed part of court regalia from the time of Rama I (ruled 1782-1809).  Rama V issued gold coats as part of official uniforms throughout the tributary states, and to his Ministers of State in Bangkok.  Brocaded shirts were also sent as gifts to the rulers of tributary principalities.  According to the Chiang Mai chronicle lengths of brocaded silk described as 'fabric with gold and silver patterns' were also distributed.  Some samples have been identified as pha yearabab [khemkhab cloth], a type of brocade imported from India.  This fabric was used to wrap manuscripts and ceremonial regalia, such as swords and water vessels."


* Baker/Phongpaichit 2005 p100
"By the Fifth Reign, both men and women in the court clothed their full body with mainly tailored garments.  The new bureaucrats, often working with European advisers, affected a colonial style of cotton shirt and trousers.  So did employees of farang companies.  These elite styles were quickly adapted by other levels of urban society.  Male labourers remained bare-chested, but others wore a tied upper cloth, tailored shirt, or jacket in public.  By the early twentieth century, urban Siam was fully clothed."

* Thongchai 1994 p73
"[T]he Ratchapataen ('raja's pattern') [was] the semi-Western-style official suit used only at the court in Bangkok ...."

* Conway 2002 p139-140
"Under the new administrative reforms, government officers were issued with white tunics.  On a journey north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the late 1880s Satow noticed that all officials in the towns were wearing close-fitting white jackets and chong kraben with the addition of white stockings and shoes for senior officers. At court the Prince of Chiang Mai 'donned a white jacket and a silk sarong, or waist cloth worn Siamese fashion'.  However the princes did not always wear a white jacket and there are many accounts of more colourful dress.  When he went on a state visit to Chiang Rai, a satellite of Chiang Mai, the Prince of Chiang Mai 'looked resplendent' in a bright red silk chong kraben, a blue jacket with gold buttons, and shoes and white stockings.  Prince Indra Witchayanon of Chiang Mai (ruled 1871-1897) received tributary offerings from the Lawa wearing a black silk jacket, silk chong kraben and was barefoot.  His son, who was present at the ceremony, wore a green satin jacket and yellow silk chong kraben.  Many princes wore embroidered slippers made in Chiang Mai rather than European style shoes.  At his wedding the Prince of Lampang wore a blue silk jacket embroidered with gold, purple chong kraben and black velvet cap with a gold band."


* Thai World Heritage Information Centre online >
"The Japanese sword was a popular weapon among the elite in Ayutthaya. It remained one of the regalia of Siamese royals up to the Rattanakosin period."

* Kingdom of Siam 2005 p167 (Forrest McGill, ML Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Tushara Bindu Gude, & Natasha Reichle, "Objects in the exhibition" p111-177)
"[I]n 1861, King Mongkut included among his state gifts to the American president what he described in English as 'a sword manufactured in Siam after the Japanese model.'"

* Wilkinson-Latham 1973 p25-26
"In both the military and naval swords, Siam copied the British style of weapon.  The newly organized forces, under British instructors had their swords designed for them by Wilkinson and Son and because of this and the British influence, the infantry sword was based on the British infantry pattern of 1822, the cavalry sword was modelled on the British heavy cavalry pattern of 1856, the artillery were armed with a version of the 1822 light cavalry sword and the Navy copied the contemporary British model.
    "The infantry sword had in place of the slightly ornate backpiece on the British pattern one that had an elephant head pommel with the trunk following the line of the strap of the guard.  The guard was what was called the 'Gothic' pattern having three bars, which incorporated the arms of Siam in place of the cypher of Queen Victoria which would appear in the British pattern.  The blade was slightly curved with a single cutting edge and a fuller in each side.  The decoration of the blade was an exact copy of the British style except that the crown and Royal cypher were replaced with the arms of Siam.  The main difference besides the elephant head and the Siamese arms was that the hilt was silver plated and the blackened fish skin grip was bound with three strands of silver wide.  There was also another version of this sword with the British style pommel and backpiece and with the arms engraved on the guard.  This model was issued to senior NCOs.
    "The cavalry version, also carried by the Royal Guard utilises the heavy cavalry hilt of 1856 but with the Siamese arms incorporated in the scroll work.  The backpiece was the same as on the infantry sword and again the hilt was silver plated
    "The Navy adopted a copy of the British pattern, but with a plain foul anchor in the cartouche on the guard and the elephant head pommel and backpiece in place of the lion head pommel and backpiece.  In all cases with Siamese swords they are much small than their corresponding British counterparts.  The hilts and blades used were those utilised for dress swords in the British service being lighter and smaller than the full size fighting weapon."