The full name of Bangkok


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Full name of Bangkok

Unless talking to foreigners who don't know any different, Thais will never call their capital city Bangkok - indeed, some Thais in the more remote provinces may never have even heard of it being called that. Instead in Thai it is known as Krung Thep (กรุงเทพ), which roughly translates to 'City of Angels'.

Bangkok (translated as 'village of wild plums') was the original site for the capital city and was located west of the Chao Phraya river (in modern day Thonburi). In 1782, King Rama I decided to move to a more defensible site and moved across the river to found his new capital, Krung Thep. For whatever reason, foreigners have never since caught up with the name change and the old name of Bangkok has stuck. In recent years, Krung Thep/Bangkok has expanded at such a fast rate that it now sprawls over a huge mass of land on both the sides of the Chao Phraya and has engulfed the once independent Thonburi.

 Krung Thep is actually an abbreviated version of the ceremonial full name, which is shown below.

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

In the official English romanisation, this is certified as the longest place name in the world in the Guinness book of records. It's pronounced something like: 

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

So given the length of it, it's not hard to see why it's shortened in every day use. The full name itself is never actually used, though it can be seen on a few signs around Bangkok as part of a tourist campaign. Another version, Krung Thep Mahanakhon, is quite common in official documents, car number plates and the like. Despite the length of it, an impressive number of Thai people are still able to recite the entire name off by heart. They wouldn't necessarily understand what it means though, as many of the words are archaic and no longer used in modern Thai. 

The full name actually translates to a string of superlatives, which give some idea of how fond King Rama I must have been of his new city:

The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

Hear it in 38 secs

Now that's a mouthful!

in our page about local history you'll see yet another short video about the full name, and a video showing with the words so you can practice.  haa haa good luck

Song about the name: 2.31 min


The city's aspects:  Photo album  <> Videos

The formal manifest 

According to the Committee for Rattanakosin Bicentennial Celebration to Commemorate the Rattanakosin Bicentennial, THE CHAKRI MONARCHS AND THE THAI PEOPLE:
A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP, the English title as given by the authors themselves, after King Rama I, took throne on April 6, 1782, his first
task was to find the new site for the capital city. He didn't not want to continue using Thonburi as the capital citing the fact that as
the wall of the city was on jaaw phrayaa River which could be hard to defend in time of war.
Besides, Thonburii was in the bottom of the River's curve and the land on its bank eroded. The palace itself was constrained by two wats:
wat arun and wat thaaytalaad.
He believed the other side of the River was better as the city would be situated on the top of the curve. The River itself could serve as a natural kuumuang on the western side. On the eastern side, a kuumuang (man made water reservoir created to protect the enemy) could be easily dug.
The site was at the time occupied by the Chinese who then were relocated to the new site between Kloong wat saam plum and
Kloong wat sam pheng. On Sunday of the sixth month, khUn"sip'kam" (the 10th day of the rising moon period), at 15 minutes after
midnight, the City's pillar was erected. The date is translated to the western calendar as April 21, 1782.
The new city was named by King Rama I as:    .... see above ...

King Rama IV (Kung Mongkut) had the term bOO wOON changed to a mOOn as the name now appears.
King Rama I ordered a canal to be dug connecting to the River at Baang lam phuu on the northern side and at wat saam plUm  on the
southern side. Then wall was built along the canal inner side for more than 7 kilometers. Along this wall, there were 14 forts.
Within this wall, the Grand Palace was constructed. There were many halls and a wat, wat phra sii rad tana saadsa daa-raam (wat
phrakAAw). The palace was cosmologically designed to be the center of the new city. From the name one could see the term ayutthayaa which was from, as was that of krung sii ayudthayaa, the former capital, the legendary ayoothayaa where the Rama was born, as appeared in the Ramayana (or Raam-ma"kian- ...its Thai version).
The canal is actually two klongs attached to each other in the inland at pOOm phra kaan (phra kaan Fort). The northern one is
klOOng-baang-lam-phuu- and the southern one is klOOng-ong'aang'.

Speaking about the cosmology of Thai kingship, Tambiah, a Harvard anthropologist, writes a book in which the term "galactic polity" is
used to typify the nature of Thai kingship. The king was concieved as the reincarnation of Naa-raay- or Phra raam whose duty was to get rid of the evils. The god stays at the top of phra su'mee-ru. No wonder, the roof of the palace halls often are in mountain-liked shape (with its pointy top). The throns where the king sits is typically characterized by legendary domains, namely oceans (naa-kaa-...big snake), forest (singha...big lion) and sky (krut".. or garuda as called by Indonesian...the half-man-half-bird being). The su'mee-ru" is surrounded by seven oceans, the Himmapan, and high up in the sky. These mythical animals also appears in the royal river procession

Thai kingship is regarded as tham ma raachaa as compared to theewa raa chaa of Khmer. However, architects of the kingship have not been reluctant to add elements that draw the institution closer to the theewa raachaa. For those who are not familiar with these terms, please note that the former one is referred to the system that the king is to balance between being the warrior and the religious figure. The latter is closer to the Brahminism as the king belong to ka'sat' caste and the Brahm belong the the Brahm caste.
The ambition to compromise between the warrior (who kills, and hungers for power) and the religious being (who does not kill and less attached to the worldly materials) is not an easy job. The attempt is seen in symbolic form. The King could be regarded as phra buddha  chaaw luang (King Rama V).

At the end of Sukhothai period, the kings leaned toward the notion of tham-ma raa-chaa-. One of the kings even had his named representing the idea, e.g. phra tham-ma raa-chaa-li thay. Tambiah argues that unlike theewa raa-chaa, the tham-ma raa-chaa tends to be weak and will finally lost the interest in conquering the world.

Related links:  Thailand / Bangkok history 

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