One hundred and thirty participants joined the seminar/exhibition, which was opened by Dr. M.R. Rujaya Abhakorn, Director of SEAMEO SPAFA, with benediction by Phra Maha Thavorn Thirachitto, Abbot, Wat Bangluang.
The seminar sessions included presentations by Mr. Pisarn Boonpuk, outstanding Thai heritage conservationist; Ajarn Budsaba Prapatpong, Education Officer, and Phra Maha Charun Yanachari, Assistant Abbot, Wat Chana Songkram, who discussed local Mon documents in Thailand. Ms. Kongkaew Veeraprajak, Ancient Language Specialist, National Library, also spoke on Conservation of Mon Documents in Thailand.
In the late afternoon, a discussion on Mon documents in various places and a guideline for further action took place. A singing of Mon songs from ancient documents was also performed during the day.
Thailand was once home to various races who lived together in groups over thousands of years ago. In the central part of present Thailand, there are artistic, architectural as well as linguistic evidences showing that among the various groups at that time, those influenced by Dvaravati culture and Buddhism, and used Mon as a formal language, were in dominant roles. About two decades hence, Dvaravati or Mon culture greatly influence the northern parts, namely Lopburi and Hariphunchai (Lamphun).
SEAMEO SPAFA has been managing a project, ‘Mon Palm Leaf Manuscripts: Compilation, Conservation and Digitization’, which surveys, gathers and catalogues names of and stories from ancient Mon manuscripts, especially palm leaves and Koi books that were writen with Mon alphabets, in Mon, Pali- Sanskrit and other languages. These documents are kept at the regional centre, Mon temples and other learning centres that belong to the Mon people in Thailand. The intention is for the project to lead to further study that will increase the understanding of the way of life, society, history and wisdom of Mon people in the past. Conservation of the documents as an intellectual heritage is also an aim of the project.
To raise awareness of the importance of Mon’s intellectual heritage in Thailand, SEAMEO SPAFA organized activities, such as visits to Mon community centres and development of a network for knowledge dissemination, in 2012.
(1) Survey, compile and catalogue names and stories from ancient Mon documents in Mon temples and communities in Thailand
(2) Raise awareness in local communities on the importance of the documents and the wisdom contained therein
(3) To conserve ancient Mon documents, and study and disseminate the knowledge thereof
Mon temples and communities are aware of the value of the documents in their possession, and conserve them so that later generations can study them.