When Siamese soldiers crushed the Holy Man Rebellion and scoured the area for escaped rebels, terrified locals sought refuge in temples while others turned to local spirits for protection. A local chief who became an executioner of rebels bore a ring of black which returned to black even when scratched. Had the ring absorbed the malice of its bearer and the dark crimes he committed? Was he the “Sauron of Isaan”? Guest contributor Janista Aphasaengphet investigates, with photos by The Isaan Record intern, Tatiya Trachu.
In Part I of our special three-part series, “The Holy Man Rebellions from both sides of the Mekong,” Ian G. Baird described how the political dynamics between the French, the House of Champassak, and the Siamese all played a role in sparking sporadic millenarian movements in both the newly established French colony of Laos and the Bangkok-colonized Northeast of Siam. In this segment, Baird explains how the “holy men” of the period moved back and forth across the Mekong River, making it a significant cross-border set of events.
Prince Sapphasitthiprasong was the one who brought urban planning to Ubon Ratchathani. He might be called the father of modern Ubon. But he was also the one who launched the campaign against the Holy Man Rebellion in Trakan Phuet Phon District. The rebels were hopelessly outgunned and the crackdown led to the death of more than 300. A local historian and restaurant owner weighs in on how the people of Ubon Ratchathani remember this Bangkok-appointed governor.
The tale of resistance surrounding Isaan’s Holy Man Rebellion in Ubon Ratchathani province, called “The Battle of Non Pho,” was passed down from generation to generation. Much folklore and many poems recalled the event of 121 years ago. Non Pho was a killing field, shelled by the government’s cannons, where over 400 people died. Local residents hope to build a local history museum in order to memorialize the tragic history of that day, one that has otherwise been fading.
Isaan scholars and artists, in cooperation with The Isaan Record, are set to carry out a merit-making ceremony and other activities in April 2022 in Ban Saphue, Ubon Ratchathani Province. The event is to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the Siamese government’s crushing of the Phi Bun Rebellion in the area where as many as 400 rebels were killed or executed.