The City Pillar of Metropolitan Phetchabun: The Integration of Traditional and Modern Concepts in the Art and Architecture of City Pillars after the 1932 Revolution The City Pillar of Metropolitan Phetchabun: The Integration of Traditional and Modern Concepts in the Art and Architecture of City Pillars after the 1932 Revolution

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Sawan Tangtrongsitthikul

Abstract

The City Pillar of Metropolitan Phetchabun was built between 1943-1944, when there was a plan to move the capital from Bangkok to Lom Sak District, Phetchabun Province, following the idea of Prime Minister Field Marshal P. Phibul Songkhram. As part of a new city planning design, where various government offices were located as a system according to their missions, the city pillar was thus located in the middle of the traffic roundabout at the heart of the new city centre, related to other essential elements of the city.


Made of Chaiyapruek wood, the City Pillar is octagonal, with its overall composition consistent with Bangkok’s city pillar.  However, in the creation of the new capital pillar, four modern concepts can be observed as follows: 1) the use of “modern construction techniques” in the making of the City Pillar, 2) the change of forms, 3) the reduction of decorative patterns, and 4) the artistic expression of “strength and power” using geometric forms, angles, straight-lines, rather than curves as customarily employed in traditional Thai arts.  Meanwhile, traditional Thai practices can still be acknowledged such as the uses of “sacred” wood as a material for the city pillar and of nine kinds of “auspicious” woods in pillar erection ceremony. 


The changes indicate the integration of “Traditional Arts” with “Modern Arts”, befitting Phibul Songkhram’s idea of creating a new centre for the new capital, at the centre of which the City Pillar was erected. The erection of Phetchabun's City Pillar marked not only the establishment of the new capital but also the ‘modern’ concept of city pillar design.

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