Category Archives: Museums

Wat Po Chai Semaram, Fadaet Songyang, Kalasin

Wat Po Chai Semaram, Kalasin

Wat Po Chai Semaram is situated in Ban Sema about 20 km south of the capital of Kalasin Province. It is sited within the heart of an ancient city known as Muang Fadaet Songyang. Archeological evidence suggests that thgere was an urbanised community here in prehistoric times; there is plenty of visible evidence that the city was prospering in the Dvaravati period about a thousand years ago.

The wat compound is right in the heart of the village, as this map shows:

Ban Sema, Nong-Paeng, Kalasin

Wat Po Chai Semaram, KalasinThe wat serves as a depository for some impressive sandstone boundary makers, or sema. Some of them have bas reliefs illustrating the jataka stories of the Buddha’s life and previous lives. These are kept under cover in a special building. The blue rectangles had explanatory texts attached to them at one time. You can see one such text on the ground in front of the stone on the left.  This display is undoubtedly valuable and of considerable interest but is more than somewhat neglected.

Wat Po Chai Semaram, Kalasin

The wat also serves as a museum for artefacts of a secular nature. One exhibit I was pleased to see was this krok, or rice pounder, which used to be a ubiquitous feature of village homes in Isan.

Wat Po Chai Semaram, Kalasin

This unusual sala serves as a place where some exhibits are kept as well as serving its more usual function as a space where monks and lay people come together.

Wat Po Chai Semaram, Kalasin

You can see more images of this wat in the slideshow below.

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You can find Wat Po Chai Semaram by leaving Kalasin on Route 214 towards Roi Et.  After 13 km you reach the district town of Kamalasai. Turn right and travel along Route 2367 for 6 km until you reach the village of Ban Sema.

You can read more about Wat Po Chai Semaram on my other site, Life in Phana:


Exhibits at Kasemsima Temple Museum

We were introduced to the temple museum at Wat Kasemsimram by a friend from Phana. Here he is with the abbot in the exhibition room.

Here are some of the exhibits to give you some idea of the range on display here. The labelling and explanation of exhibits is very well done, but unfortunately is in Thai only.

Elephant bones

Python skin


Library cabinet

Ceremonial Jars

Musical Instruments

Wooden horse

I think what I found most interesting was the reminder of how abundant wildlife used to be in this area.

Temple Museum at Kasemsima

The temple museum at Kasemsima was a real find, though we didn’t find  it ourselves. A Phana friend who lives and works in Trakan Phutphon (Ubon Ratchathani Province) took us there.

The temple-museum is located in the village of Kasemsima Muang Gow, in Tambon Kasem, Amphur Trakan Phutphon, Changwat Ubon Ratchanthani. From Trakan, drive 3 kms north-east on route 2050 towards Khemmarat, then fork left towards Kut Khao Pun. Drive through Ban Kasemsima, cross the small river and turn right into Ban Kasmsima Muang Gow.

Wat Kasemsamran, Development Wat of the Year 2540 (1997)

 The wat itself is very modest. The kutis are old and wooden like this group of three:

Kuti, Wat Kasemsamran

The ubosot is very old,  faded, almost neglected in appearance. Yet it is also very unusual. Despite the name of the village, this ubosot has no sima  or boundary marker-stones. When I mentioned this to the abbot he said they had ‘disappeared’ many years ago. I said that presumably the luk nimit were still in place, but he surprised me by saying that this was a Lao temple and the custom of burying luk nimit was Thai. The temple was founded in BE 2291 (1748) so it is old but not as old as Wat Phra Lao Thepnimit in Phana.

Ubosot, Wat Kasemsamran

But it is the museum that people come to see and that is housed in a magnificent new purpose-built building.

Museum entrance, Wat Kasemsamran

 Some of the exhibits in this excellent museum will appear in a slideshow in the next post.

Temple Museum at Ban Nong Chang Noi, Ubon Ratchathani Province

Temple Museums seem to be the latest thing, if a small corner of Ubon Ratchathani Province is anything to go by. There are two within about 50 km of each other.

You will find this one in a small village off the road from Amphur Muang Samsip to Amphur Phana. Muang Samip itself is on the main road from Ubon to Amnat Charoen, Highway 212. Phana is signposted 26 km off  to the right, along Route 2049, and Ban Nong Chang Noi is about 14 km from this turning. The village is on the left and you should see this sign:

This is the museum building which you will find within the grounds of the monastery:

These are some of the exhibits you will find in this museum. They are rather crowded and at the moment without explanatory labels but nevertheless they record a way of life that has almost completely vanished, even though many of the artefacts were still in use within living memory. If you are in the Ubon area, this is a visit that would be well worth making. There will be someone to open the building for you and there is no charge for a visit, although a donation would be most welcome.

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Ubon Ratchathani National Museum

The Ubon Ratchathani National Museum is located on the corner of Khuanthani Road and Upparat Road, adjacent to the Tung Sri Muang park. The building itself was built in 1918 and was originally used as the offices of the Governor of the province. A new Sala Klang (Provincial Hall) was built in 1968 and in 1983 the then Governor presented the original building to the Fine Arts Department for restoration and use as a museum. HRH Princess Sirindhorn presided over the inauguration ceremony on 30th June 1989.

Ubon Ratchathani National Museum

The building itself is most attractive. A series of rooms surrounds a large central hall containing Buddha images, which is used on occasion as a lecture hall. Either side of this hall are two rectangular garden areas. An internal verandah separates the rooms from the central hall and gardens. This layout results in a shady, cool, quiet ambience that suits very well the new purpose of the building, and the polished teak and fretwork designs that decorate the top of door-frames and pillars are themselves significant cultural artefacts.

Wooden bell in internal garden area

Outside the main building is an open-sided sala housing three large sema stones dating from the 8th—9th centuries AD, a long dugout boat, and a huge iron ‘road-scraper’ from the late 19th century.

Everyone will have their own idea as to the highlights of the main exhibition, but there are some particularly important exhibits, all of which were found in Ubon Ratchathani Province (although some were found in what are now Amnat Charoen and Yasothon — provinces which were created at a later date).

Sandstone Buddha Image with gilt lacquer

Amongst the most important items on view here are a bronze kettle drum that is more than 2,000 years old, pottery found in Amphur Phana that is more than 1,500 years old, sema stones from the 8th and 9th centuries, an image of Shiva mixed with his consort Uma (9th century AD), a sandstone Ganesa image from the 10th century AD, delicate Buddha images in the Lao style from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as  photographs from the end of the 19th century.

Ganesa (Ganesh), sandstone image


The museum is open on Wednesdays through Sundays, but closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays. Opening hours are from 9am to 4pm. The admission fee is 30 Baht.

Photography is not allowed inside the museum, but if you  wish to take photographs you can apply to the Director by asking at the ticket counter. Permission will be allowed or refused  immediately and involves a certain amount of form-filling.

Sadly, the National Museum here is not as well patronised as it deserves to be, but the upside of that is that it is a quiet, restful place where you will find it easy to spend time looking at the nicely varied exhibition.