Design for monument to Ubon’s Holy Man Rebellion unveiled

A team of local artists have proposed a design for a memorial commemorating the “Holy Man Rebellion” in Ubon Ratchathani province. They want to promote the area to become a historical tourist destination and symbolize a kind of a public apology to those slaughtered.

By Ardchawit Inha 

UBON RATCHATHANI – Ubon Agenda, an artist group in Ubon Ratchathani province, has proposed a design for a monument commemorating the deadly crackdown on the Holy Man’s Rebellion at Non Pho at Ban Saphue in Trakan Phuet Phon district. The design was posted on the group’s Facebook page last month, following events in the local area and the city district in early April. 

The group says the effort is to make a record of a 123-year-old suppressed piece of the region’s “forgotten history” and to continue the mission of the late artist practitioner Thanom Chapakdee who sought to shed light on various historical events in Isaan history and organized events on the rebellion movement last year. The memorial is also meant to help develop the area as a historical tourist destination and generate revenue for the residents of Ban Sapue.

Narasit Wongprasert, a key member of the Ubon Agenda group and a professor of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Ubon Ratchathani University, says the creation of this memorial aims for the “liberation of thoughts” from Bangkok-centric history. He says if the initiation comes from the people themselves, they will be able to understand more about their identity and who they are. 

When the memorial is finished, Narasit says, it means that locals can use this part of history to define their own agenda and stories. He also hopes it could become a model for other communities to create their own memorials for their own local history.

“It is not to rub salt into the old wounds, but to acknowledge the identity of the local people. Eventually, we will be able to love one another based on an understanding of each other’s differences.”

The memorial of the Holy Man Rebellion of the Non Pho Battle was designed by Prof. Chatri Prakitnontakan and Patcharapong Kunkanchanacheewin. It consists of three main parts.

1. A 16-meter-tall monument in the shape of a Laos reed organ, made from black smoked metals, to represent the Laos identity in the area.

2. The bamboo parts of the organ are replaced with knives and swords, to represent the uprising of the rebels.

3. The base of the monument is a crossbeam to represent the arrest and imprisonment of the rebels. The style of the monument — swords that are assembled into the shape of a reed organ — is a symbol of the ordinary people standing up against the central government.

There is also a design for a pavilion in the middle of a pond, along with development of a surrounding rice paddy and the pond to make it into a tourist attraction. The locals can also make use of the rice paddy to plant rice . The pavilion can be utilized as a recreational space and an educational center about the Holy Man Rebellion of Ban Sapue.

Chatri, one of the designers, posted on his Facebook about the inspiration behind the design. He says when he was contacted to work on the memorial, he immediately said yes because he wanted to play some small part in carrying out the dream of Thanom, who passed away about a year ago. He said he hoped the design would help accomplish Thanom’s final dream, and he thanked Patcharapong, another designer, who also promptly agreed to be a part of the project.

The late Thanom Chapakdee (in blue shirt) in Ban Saphoe last year

The design is adapted to the local setting, Chatri writes. 

“The surroundings are designed to make them easy to maintain. The monument is in the middle of a pond, with local plants at the back and the sides as its background. There is a pavilion in the front of it as a space for the annual event. The design is like a temple’s main pavilion, conforming to the cultural context. The rest of the areas can be used as a rice paddy during the season, conforming to the livelihood of the Holy Man. The paths connecting each part will be a simple wooden bridge.”

The Facebook page of the Ubon Agenda group is raising donations for the construction of the memorial to the Battle of Non Pho-Ban Saphue. The contribution can be made through the group’s Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives account:

Account Name:  Memorial Project for the Non Pho – Ban Saphue Battle

orโครงการก่อตั้งอนุสรณ์สถานศึกโนนโพธิ์ – บ้านสะพือ

Account Number: 020207003441

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