The Democracy Monument, an imposing Western-inspired creation located in the heart of the Thai capital Bangkok lays claim to a turbulent and eventful legacy. Undoubtedly a striking monument, it is considered to represent the consolidation of liberty and democracy in Thailand. It was created by order of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram to commemorate the military coup of June 1932 which was to lead to the creation of Thailand's first democratic-oriented constitution replacing rule by absolute monarch.
The focus of the monument is a sculpted replica of a palm leaf document box which contains the 1932 Thai constitution; this element is placed on top of a couple of golden bowls which surmount a circular turret. The constitution is symbolically protected by four structures which resemble wings, which signify the four main divisions of the armed forces of Thailand – the army, air force, navy and police which were responsible for the coup of 1932.
The wing-like structures stand at an impressive 24 metres; the radius of the monument's base also corresponds to this measurement. This figure commemorates the date of the coup, 24th June. Similarly the three metre high central turret represents the customary Thai calendar's third month which corresponds to June. Initially 75 small scale cannon were positioned around the monument's outer ring, representing the year of the coup, which is identified as the year 2475 in the traditional Buddhist calendar. Facing out from the bottom of two of the wings may be seen fountains which take the form of nagas, the snake-like guardian figures which have their origins in Buddhist and Hindu mythology.
At the monument's base may be seen relief sculptures which portray Thailand's armed forces as the Thai people's personification and as champions of democracy. In these reliefs civilians are depicted as the grateful beneficiaries of the armed forces' benevolence and heroism.
Although the political environment in Thailand at the time of the construction of the monument cannot be truly described as democracy, in later years the Democracy Monument was the site of numerous major pro-democracy rallies, giving it a sort of legitimacy it initially lacked.
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