BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Tourists headed to the Grand Palace during the long weekend to admire the 100 or so stone statues unearthed recently from under the complex’s walls.
The statues were found by the Royal Household Bureau while it was performing road maintenance recently. Upon discovering the statues, the bureau contacted the Fine Arts Department to dig them up, restore them and put them on display in the courtyard of the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew).
Images of the statues were shared on the “Bangkok I Love You” Facebook page on Thursday, with the caption saying: “These statues served as ballast for junks used in trading with China in the early Rattanakosin era.
“Thai merchants loaded heavy products such as rice to China and carried lightweight products on their return trips such as silk and tealeaf. They would therefore need these statues in their junks to keep the vessels balanced while in the sea. When they arrived in Thailand, they usually just threw these statues away as they have no further use.”
The post added that the statues are in excellent condition since they were buried in mud for a century and suffered less erosion than stone statues out in the open, where they are hit by wind, sun and rain.
Similar stone ballast dolls were found earlier near Bangkok’s Wat Pho temple.