Photo of H.M. King Chulalongkorn in 1881
Dressed in Western-Style Uniform
Photo of H.M. King Chulalongkorn in 1881 - Gift of King Rama V, 1881

King Chulalongkorn in 1881 Dressed in Western-Style Uniform
Gift of King Chulalongkorn, 1881
Harris Treaty Revisions
National Anthropological Archives
Inventory # 048391.00

King Chulalongkorn was surrounded from an early age by relatives who were enthusiastic about the West. His father, King Mongkut, Rama IV, and his uncle, Phra Pin Klao, and the regent, Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriyawongse (Chuang Bunnak), were avid scholars of Western scientific advances and scientists in their own right. These men befriended, through treaties, gifts, and letters, the leaders of many Western nations, beginning the Thai strategy of openness which ultimately kept Siam free of colonial rule. King Chulalongkorn was the first Thai monarch to travel to the West, visiting Europe in 1897 and 1902, and the Thai royal family became quite close to Czar Nicholas II and his family, as well as the German royal family and the king and queen of Denmark. This uniform and the Thai medals are styled after Western uniforms as part of King Chulalongkorn's general strategy of showing the West that the Thais were a civilized people who deserved their sovereignty. King Chulalongkorn also built an impressive array of sumptuously decorated Western-style buildings at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, where he received many Westerners. The strategy worked: unlike her surrounding Southeast Asian neighbors, Thailand was never colonized by a Western power.

Gallery 1

1a. Robert's Treaty, 1833

1b. Harris Treaty, 1856

1c. Status & Rank of the Presidents

Gallery 2

2a. H.M. King Chulongkorn's Gifts

2b. Centennial Exposition, 1876

2c. 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

Gallery 3

3a. Institutional Gifts

3b. Recent Gifts to the US

3c. Thai Royal Gifts in Perspective

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