We had read that Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was a gem often missed by tourists. It is included with the Grand Palace ticket, but we forgot, and had to buy an additional ticket for 150 baht ($5.00) each. I also forgot to grab my sarong from my luggage, so even though I was wearing slacks, I had to purchase one at the entrance for an additional $1.75. An attendant promptly wrapped and tied it snuggly around my waist. We were shown a locker and instructed to leave our cameras and personal belongings there. There would be no photos. The photos shown of the interior were taken from our admission brochure and images found on the internet.
Throne Hall – itself a national treasure – is an impressive and elegant Italian Renaissance style structure on the grounds of Dusit Palace. Through the door of Throne Hall, the architecture could be considered the Thai version of the Sistine Chapel, with riches like we had never seen. We were indeed seeing the Arts of the Kingdom. A bright green chandelier in an octagonal room of iridescent green and gold was an eye-opener. The entire room – including the chandelier – was exquisitely decorated with the wings of a certain variety of beetle with brilliant colored wings. It was dazzling.
There were small models of royal barges made of beautifully carved and fantastically ornamented with gold niello, silver, enamel, diamonds and beetle wing. One of the three barges on display was bombed by the Japanese during World War II. The barges were once used daily by the royal family to get about their realm, but are now used only for grand ceremonies.
We marveled at screens with an ancient form of embroidery known as pak soi using silver, gold and only the finest silk threads from the cocoons of organically raised local silkworms. The color blends were gorgeous and sparkly sequins were used to enhance the artwork even more. It took more than 140 craftsmen over four years to produce a single screen.
A double-sided intricately carved wooden screen depicting mythical Thai tales required nearly 80 artisans almost three years to complete. An entire table is arranged exactly as it was once set for guests of Thailand’s royal family, complete with menu covers made of ivory, with carved floral motifs and mythical creatures.
We saw royal thrones; busabok (pavilion on which a king is seated); palanquin/howda (covered seat, carried on four poles, once used to transport the king on the back of his personal elephant when going forth to battle); and Buddha’s footprint.
Gold, lots of gold, silver, diamonds… Amazing forms of art, beautifully crafted – all royal treasures, presented to the King and Queen by local artisans. The skill of hundreds of people over several years is a priceless treasure and an unforgeable feast for the eyes!