07 October 2016
TRS Fellow receives award from the acting Supreme Patriarch in Thailand
Phibul Choompolpaisal, Research Fellow in Buddhism in TRS, has just picked up an important award, for work on Buddhist manuscripts in Thailand. On behalf of the College, Phibul accepted the award given by the acting Supreme Patriarch (Sangharaja) of the Buddhist Sangha of all Thailand for our work on manuscript conservation around the country.
Phibul Choompolpaisal, Research Fellow in Buddhism in TRS, has just picked up an important award, for work on Buddhist manuscripts in Thailand. On behalf of the College, Phibul accepted the award given by the acting Supreme Patriarch (Sangharaja) of the Buddhist Sangha of all Thailand for our work on manuscript conservation around the country. Choompolpaisal represents King’s in a close collaboration with the Manuscript Conservation Association of Thailand, to promote the preservation, recording, documentation of and education about Buddhist manuscripts in Thailand’s temples and libraries.
Thailand preserves millions of traditional manuscripts, almost all produced before the arrival of the printing press, and has a major challenge to protect and give access to these fragile records. The existing government program can only do so much, and King’s College has taken a crucial role in facilitating the development of the Manuscript Conservation Association, a private scholarly organisation that has stepped up to assist with that challenge. We are currently working in several temples around Thailand, including most recently the famous and beautiful Wat Arun Ratchavararam, the royal temple in Bangkok where Choompolpaisal and his team are unearthing hundreds of palm leaf manuscripts preserved in traditional cabinets around the temple.
These manuscripts will be cleaned, catalogued, photographed digitally and then carefully wrapped in cloth before being put back into organised storage at the temple. Amazingly, given the high public profile of Wat Arun Ratchavararam – almost every tourist in Bangkok makes a visit – only a tiny part of the manuscript collection there had received any attention, and the bulk of it was unknown to exist, even in Thailand. Our work there will help preserve and bring scholarly and public access to this important collection. In the process we are training young employees in the skills needed to do this work, helping pass on knowledge about manuscripts to a new generation of people who can help preserve Thailand’s heritage.
The award, presented by the acting Supreme Patriarch himself, was the first of its kind and so it is a special honour that King’s and the MCA were selected as first recipients. The other recipient of an award is the Head of the Wat Suthitvararam School, which has made exceptional contributions to community work over a number of years. The awards were made on the occasion of the opening of the Wat Suthitvararam Education Centre on 2nd October 2016.