Buri Ram mushroom hunter makes enigmatic discovery?

MONDAY, MAY 13, 2024

Mushroom hunters in Buri Ram may have come upon an engraving of great historical significance. Art history professor says otherwise.

This article has been edited on May 14 

On Friday, Pramul Kongkratok, a villager who lives near Khao Krachiao mountain in Buri Ram’s Non Din Daeng district, posted an image on social media on Friday, which quickly went viral.

The image showed an ancient engraving of a woman, with an arm above her head. The photograph was captioned: “Went mushroom hunting and found this. I’ve lived here for so long, but just learned we have this around here. It’s a blessing.”

While the internet has been talking about the new discovery and if this sculpture is MayaDevi from Dvaravati period (6th - 11th century). Art history professor from faculty of archaeology, Silpakorn University, Chedha Tingsanchali, said the discovery at Buri Ram is not as old as people might think.

“The sculptor was someone who saw ancient art like ancient Indian art and imitated it. The features are not match the time [Dvaravati] such as eyebrows, lips and other features. And lastly, MayaDevi holding a brand of a pipal tree was never known to people living in Esaan during Dvaravati before 16 centuries.”

The stone sculpture found on Buri Ram’s Khao Krachiao mountain

The Facebook post also caught the attention of the Royal Forest Department, which sent officials to check it out. Joining the team of officials were Pramul and village health volunteers.

Orathai Jaiuea, one of the volunteers, told The Nation that the area where the sculpture was found was popular among mushroom foragers from neighbouring villages.

She said that while Pramul and his wife were gathering mushrooms, Noi Sirisoi who accompanied them, spotted the sculpture.

The family lives in Ban Klong Pong village in the Lam Nang Rong sub-distric.

Officials from the Royal Forest Department pose with village health volunteers and Pramul Kongkatok Members of the expedition team pose with the newly discovered sculpture on Buri Ram’s Khao Krachiao mountain

Winai Wongsaenkham and Panchalika Wongsaenkham, who live in the village also said this may have been made by a monk from Khao Krachiao temple one kilometer from the discovery site around 30-50 years ago.

The Northeast province of Buri Ram is known for its archaeological sites and long-standing links with ancient Khmer kingdoms. Many of the ancient temples found in the province date as far back as the Dvaravati Kingdom (6th to 11th centuries) including Muang Tum, Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung and the outstanding Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, built atop an extinct volcano.

Non Din Daeng district alone boasts of two lesser-known archaeological sites, namely Prasat Nong Kong and Prasat Nong Tua Pap.

It is believed that the engraving found on Friday is that of Sirimahamaya, the mother of Buddha, though the exact identity of the sculpture is uncertain at this time. The Fine Arts Department is expected to send a team to the site and shed light on the engraving’s historical significance.

The ancient stone sculpture found on Khao Krachiao mountain, Buri Ram