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Dara Pirom Palace Museum


THE DARA PIROM PALACE MUSEUM located in the Dara Rasamee Border Patrol Police Camp in Mae Rim District in Chiangmai Province opened to the public on December 9, in remembrance of the day of the Princess' passing in 1933.

The Dara Pirom Palace was built after King Vajiravudh (or Rama VI) gave the petition to Jao Dara Rasamee to return to her childhood home city of Chiangmai after King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) passed away. Jao Dara Rasamee used her home at the palace to perform many good deeds in the fields of agriculture, culture and the arts. She also supported Buddhism and was a major influence in developing Lanna's handicrafts which are still making Chiangmai famous today.

She had her own experimental farm called "Suan Jao Sabuy" where she developed her strong interest in agriculture and helping the farmers in the North. She started planting new species of roses which she had obtained from an England Rose Club of which she was an avid member. Her favorite species of rose was a large pink with a strong fragrance. She named the rose in remembrance of her Royal husband ("Chulalongkorn") before the King had passed away. In her will, Jao Dara Rasamee passed her property to her descendants. Later, Chulalongkorn University purchased the property from them.

Jao Dara Rasamee was the King's favorite concubine not only because she was very charming but also because she was instrumental in building a good relationship between the Chakri dynasty of Siam and the Lanna dynasty in the North. Dara Pirom Palace of Jao Dara Rasamee is a great heritage that is protected by the Chulalongkorn University. The University thought it was very important to renovate the Dara Pirom Palace and restore it to its former splendor and to establish a museum as a visual reminder to the younger generation about how greatly Jao Dara Rasamee influenced the political atmosphere of her time with her diplomacy, promoting of the arts and pioneering agriculture methods.

By October 1998, the Dara Pirom Palace was considerably worn down but the building structure is still strong and the architectural design stands out clearly. The palace has been used as a case study of buildings that have Western architectural influence in Thailand. As part of the renovation, the entire exterior and interior of the palace have been repainted in their original colors and the gardens have been recreated to restore the atmosphere of the original palace gardens.

Chulalongkorn University cooperated with members of the Royal Lanna family to collect various things that Jao Dara Rasamee used in her life. Working together, they were able to recover some 270 pieces of furniture, decorative items, and personal effects of the princess which had previously adorned the original palace. These items are now on display showing the typical palace decor at the time of her life.

The Rooms in Dara Pirom Palace

  1. The Walkway has an exhibition of photographs of Jao Dara Rasamee in a pictorial biography of her life.
  2. The Living Room has a display of gifts that citizens gave her.
  3. The Main Bedroom displays Jao Dara Rasamee's wardrobe and Royal garments.
  4. Another Bedroom displays typical household furnishings and Jao Dara Rasamee's personal belongings.
  5. The Sitting Room is decorated with more of Jao Dara Rasamee's personal effects, such as dinner service, cookery utensils and her Thai musical instruments.
  6. Another room displays photographs showing Jao Dara Rasamee performing her duties and responsibilities in the arts, agriculture and religious ceremonies.
  7. The Royal lavatory.

Ground Floor

The first floor has an exhibition of agricultural equipment that she used for experimenting with modern agriculture methods. There is also a loom that she personally used.

A Brief History of the Princess

The Kingdom of Lanna, with is center at Chiangmai is one of southeast Asia's oldest kingdoms -- older than Ayuthya or Sukhothai. It maintained its independence until 1893 when it was formally annexed into the Kingdom of Siam. The Lanna Kingdom had its own monarchy, royal family and descendants and was most recently ruled by the Gawila Dynasty ending with the reign of King Gaew Nawarat in 1939, who was the last king of Chiangmai.

Until 1893, the Lanna Kingdom was sovereign and paid tribute to Siam as a vassal state. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V), one of Siam's most dynamic and progressive rulers. Lanna and Siam became closely tied through the marriage of King Chulalongkorn to Jao Dara Rasamee of Lanna.

Jao Dara Rasamee (whose name means shining rays from a star) was born on Tuesday, August 26, 1873 at the Chiangmai Royal Residence. She was the daughter of Pra Jao Intra Wichayanon, the seventh King of Chiangmai. She was educated by her mother and father in the Northern Thai (Lanna) language like her brothers and sisters.

When she was 13 years old, King Mongkut (Rama IV) was kind enough to hold the ceremony of shaving off the topknot of Jao Dara Rasamee and the King also provided her with all the ceremonial costumes.

She was one of ten children, two of whom later became rulers of Chiangmai. At the age of eleven she was formally betrothed to Siam's King Chulalongkorn, who had already ruled in Bangkok for 16 years by the time of this royal betrothal. In 1886, at the age of 13, Jao Dara Rasamee accompanied her father to Bangkok and was presented to King Chulalongkorn. Thereafter she remained at the royal palace in Bangkok, joining the King formally in official royal matrimony and being appointed to the position of overseer of internal palace affairs.

Jao Dara Rasamee became a highly respected royal consort and bore King Chulalongkorn, one child, Pra-Ong Jao Wimol Naga Napeesee, who unfortunately died at the young age of three. The princess lived at the palace and engaged in the internal affairs of the Siam Royal Family for twenty-one years, and she was eventually granted the title of "Pra Raj Chaya" or "Great Consort" by the King and other leading members oft he Chakri Dynasty for her "....Faithful and correct behavior toward the king, members of the Royal Family, and government officials.

The significance of Jao Dara Rasamee's betrothal to King Chulalongkorn and her position as overseer of internal palace affairs during his reign goes beyond the normal matching that occurs in royal matches. As the daughter of Chiangmai's King Intra Wichayanon and princess of the Lanna Kingdom, her betrothal and marriage marked the merging of the two oldest Tai kingdoms in southeast Asia. The Lanna Kingdom was actually older than the original Siamese Kingdoms at Sukhothai or Ayuthaya, and Lanna was the most strategic of all Tai areas during the Siamese- Burmese war that raged for 300 years prior to the 19th century. In 1893, nine years after her official installment in Bangkok, Chiangmai was formally annexed into the Kingdom of Siam.

After her father's death, Jao Dara Rasamee had asked for the King's permission to visit Chiangmai. At that time, she had lived in Bangkok for 22 years. King Rama V died on October 23 , 1910, only ten months after she returned to Bangkok.

Upon the crowning of King Rama VI, Jao Dara Rasamee continued to live at the Dusit Palace. She asked the King's permission to return to Chiangmai where she lived happily at Dara Pirom until she was 60 years old. She died of lung disease at Khum Rin Kaew near Chiangmai Orchid Hotel. King Prapokklao (Rama VII) was gracious enough to arrange a Royal Funeral for her and part of her ashes are kept at Suan Dork Temple, Suthep Road, Chiangmai. Some of her ashes are also interred at the Royal Cemetery at Rachaborphitsatitmahasena.

The Dara Pirom Renovation Project

Dara Pirom Palace of Jao Dara Rasamee is considered by Chulalongkorn University to be a precious inheritance. It is an honor for Chulalongkorn University to assume the responsibility of the care of the palace. This University has also ensured that the renovation of the palace is a perfect replica just as when Jao Dara Rasamee lived there. Chulalongkorn University cooperated with Chiangmai's Provincial Government, the Lanna Royal Family members, the Chulalongkorn Alumni Organization and private Chiangmai citizens to organize a concert performance on March 28, 1998 at Kad Theater in Chiangmai to raise money for the restoration of the palace. The purpose of renovating the palace as a museum is to connect the new generations to the past and show the concern of Jao Dara Rasamee for the betterment of Chiangmai and the Northern Thai people.

The Management of Dara Pirom Fund

The Dara Pirom Fund is managed by a Fund Committee including members of the Northern Royal Family, Professors of Chulalongkorn University and Chulalongkorn Student Alumni. The proceeds raised at the concert performed by the Chulalongkorn Symphony Orchestra at the Kad Theater totaled Bt. 716,425.

The Committee organized the grand opening of Dara Pirom Palace to enhance Jao Dara Rasamee's prestige on December 9, 1999. The Committee would like to invite anyone who wants to assist this charitable work to donate to Committee members, Associate Professor Tatchai Sooppholsiri, Tel. (02) 218 3341-2, or through the Bangkok Bank account number 390-4-02045-4, or Siam Commercial Bank account number 566-2-79111-0. The Museum is open for viewing Tuesday to Sunday (except Monday) from 09.00-17.00 hrs. Admission is Bt. 20.

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