Mallika City, 1905 A.D.
In the reign of King Nangklao (Rama III), 1824-1851 A.D., it is estimated that one-third of Siamese population was slaves. Because of economic conditions, a large number of people sold themselves into slavery. Children born of slave parents were automatically enslaved; called household slaves. To free themselves, slaves needed to pay off their redemption price, or else, stayed slaves through their lives. According to the law, slaves were considered property, which means they were priced.
King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was best known for his abolition of Siamese slavery. He provided several steps towards the abolition of slavery, instead of an extreme turn to total freedom. In 1874, he enacted an “Act on Retirement of Thai Slaves’ Children” a law that lowered the redemption price of household slaves born in 1868 (his ascension year) and freed all of them when they had reached 21 years old. The law also had a condition to forbid buying or selling person older than 20 years old. In 1905, Chulalongkorn enacted the “Slavery Abolition Act” to free all slaves’ children (household slaves) on 1 April 1905, at the same time, reduced redemption price of all other types of slaves to four Baht per month. Furthermore, there were provisions to prevent freedmen from returning to slavery and prohibition of increasing slave’s price, in case of changing masters. Since then, Thai people started to gain back their happiness and make a living on their own, and be independent from the masters. However, some freemen were still attached to the money support by their masters as they did not have to struggle for their living. Thus, in that era, culture began to change. People started to have new initiatives, showed ideas, and expressed their needs without orders from masters. This happened at the same time when Western culture began to flow in.
During that time, wealthy Thais sent their children to study broad. More convenient transportation brought in more foreigners who came to trade with Siam. These factors contributed to changes in way of life until the present and some Siamese culture has started to fade away from the memories of modern Siamese people. Mallika City, Rattanakosin Era 124, was born to trace back the memory of Siam. The memory that is unique, exquisite and peaceful under His Majesty the King Rama V (the beloved King) of Siam whose works benefits all Siamese’s ancestors and their present descendants.
Mallika is a retro-city reflecting the past Siamese lifestyle in the Chao Phraya River Basin. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1873-1910 A.D.), people’s way of life in 1905 A.D. was plentifully changed. The most pronounced was the abolition of slavery. When freed, these former Siamese slaves had to live and earn a living by themselves without control and supports from their noblemen and masters anymore. They had to live a life of self-sufficiency, self-reliant, and in harmony with all other Siamese people. These changing patterns of lifestyle are the cornerstone of today’s Thai people.
According to Sulak Siviraksa, a famous Thai intellectual, “Mallika” is the name of one of the river sources of Burmese Ayeyarwady River, in Myanmar. The river was the center of ancient civilization of Southeast Asia during hundreds years ago. Nevertheless, the word Mallika in Thai dictionary means “jasmine”.
Mallika City was designed by Associate Professor Chatri Prakitnonthakan, a chair of architecture and related art, Silapakorn University. He designed the city by making up a story of Mali (jasmine), a beautiful daughter of a farmer living in Reuan Dieow, a detached house in a rural area. She, later, got married to a young government officer and started a trading business, built Reuan Pae, a floating house, to trade with foreigners, especially sugar. With her traditional Thai charm, her business went well while her husband was also climbing up the rank. They were getting rich. So, they built Reuan Kahabodi, a bigger house for the rich, which was more suitable for their economic and social status. As the business expanded and with her husband’s higher work position, they were in contact of more foreigners and noblemen. They made a decision to build a group of houses or “Reuan Hmoo”, in order to have spaces available for his guest of honor. All houses built by Mali and her husband in Mallika City represented all types of Thai traditional houses.
At the end of the reign of King Rama V, Bangkok became an international port, crowded with people of various ethnic groups, cultures, and customs. Having circumstances of acculturation altered various patterns of Siamese people’s way of life. Scholars define this era as a golden age of civilization. Lots of people nowadays desire to return to touch the atmosphere and the people, [;] to experience Siam in its old time full of cultural roots stepping into modernization. Accordingly, Mallika city reproduces those former memories and provides various commercial areas to express the Siamese civilization. There are various kinds of traditionally exquisite foods and desserts as well as elegant utensils. For new generation, these wisdom reflect the ways of living naturally without chemical concerns as in the present.
We are proud to introduce Mallika City as the place to show that our ancestors have the wisdom that is second to no other and to demonstrate to the world the cultural identity deserve no less recognition.