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Traditional Culture of Suan Sunandha Residents in Westernization Contexts

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2021-07-16 20:30:15

        adies of the court – group of noble women bearing close relationship with the King – lived their lives under strict rules for the purposes of honoring the King. These rules were passed down for a long time, and they, therefore, became traditional culture. Such culture includes their ways of living, which require no connection with male in anyways when they were outside the royal compound: neither by verbal communication nor by eye contact. It also includes dressing in particular costumes in different functions, choosing particular color of costume in different days of the weeks, and adding particular dressing to different main dishes. 

        However, this traditional culture was adapted due to westernization and the fear of colonization during King Rama IV reign. This led to the quick development of Thailand to meet with the western standard, and the adoption of western culture to signify the country’s civilization as well as modernization. 

        Members of the royal family and the ladies of the court were the first group of people, who served King Ram IV’s notion. The ways of living in line with western culture by these groups of people were still passed down to King Rama IIV and King Rama IIIV period when lots of members of the royal family resided in Suan Sunandha at the end of absolute monarchy. Suan Sunandha was, therefore, the largest royal resident of ladies in the court. 

        However, as a result of King Rama IIV and King Rama IIIV’s western norm of having a single married couple, there were very few ladies in the court. The sights of the royal mansions designed under the influence of western architecture, the style of dressing under the European trends and the spread of European cuisines led to the assumption that the domination of western culture over Thai traditional culture. However, based on the study, it is found that these changes are external conditions. In fact the people’s ways of living, their dressing styles, and types of Thai cuisines were still in their original states. The traditional culture including ways of living which were passed on from generation to generation especially inventory arts and royal cuisines were still in existence. 

        Moreover, the adoption of western culture by these ladies of the court was not compulsory, but it was due to their willingness to serve their tastes as well as to be up to the western trends. It can, therefore, be concluded that these ladies in Suan Sunandha, who lived their lives from the most prosperous era of King Rama IV to the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, took great part in passing on this traditional culture, adopting the selected western culture, and matching these two cross cultural activities suitably in the right contexts of Thai society.

         Learn about these interesting stories of Suan Sunandha Palace residents from the research paper on Traditional Culture of Suan Sunandha Residents in Westernization Contexts, by Assoc. Prof. Weena Eiamprapai / Classification ว.พ. 390.22072 ว815ร

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