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The Democracy Monument

The Democracy Monument (Known places)

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Artist / Photographer: chusak

The Democracy Monument (Thai: อนุสาวรีย์ประชาธิปไตย Anusawari Prachathipatai)

Democracy Monument (Thai: อนุสาวรีย์ประชาธิปไตย Anusawari Prachathipatai) is a public monument in the centre of Bangkok, capital of Thailand. It occupies a traffic circle on the wide east-west Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, at the intersection of Dinso Road. The monument is roughly halfway between Sanam Luang, the former royal cremation ground in front of Wat Phra Kaew, and the temple of the Golden Mount (Phu Kao Thong).

Commissioning
The monument was commissioned in 1939 to commemorate the 1932 Siamese coup d'état (also called "Siamese Revolution of 1932" or just 1932 Revolution) which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in what was then the Kingdom of Siam, by its military ruler, Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram (commonly called Por (Thai: ป.), otherwise called Phibun). Phibun saw the monument as the centre of what he envisaged as a new, westernised Bangkok, "making Thanon [road] Ratchadamnoen the Champs-Élysées and The Democracy Monument the Arc de Triomphe."

Design
The monument was designed by Mew Aphaiwong, an architect whose brother Khuang Aphaiwong was a leading member of Phibun's regime. The Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci, who was a Thai citizen and used the Thai name Silpa Bhirasi, executed the relief sculptures around the base of the monument.

The building of the Monument was highly unpopular at the time. Local residents and shopkeepers (mostly Chinese) were evicted from their homes and businesses with 60 days notice. The widening of Ratchadamnoen Road to create a ceremonial boulevard involved cutting down hundreds of shade trees, a serious matter in the days before air conditioning, given Bangkok's torrid climate.

Design elements
The centrepiece of the Monument is a carved representation of a palm-leaf manuscript box holding the Thai Constitution of 1932, on top of two golden offering bowls above a round turret. The Constitution is symbolically guarded by four wing-like structures, representing the four branches of the Thai armed forces - army, navy, air force and police - which carried out the 1932 coup.

The wings are 24 metres high, and this is also the radius of the base of the monument, marking the fact that the 1932 coup took place on 24 June. The central turret is three metres high, representing the month of June, which is the third month of the traditional Thai calendar. There were originally 75 small cannon around the outer ring of the monument, representing the year of the coup, 2475 in the Buddhist calendar. The six gates of the turret represent the six proclaimed policies of the Phibun regime: "independence, internal peace, equality, freedom, economy and education."

Facing outwards from the base of two of the wings are fountains in the form of naga, the protective snake creatures of Hindu and Buddhist mythology, although the sculptures resemble western dragons more than traditional naga sculptures.


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