2008-2012: Kanokwan Gerini Colonel G.E Gerini : the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam

      at the Turin International Exhibition, 1911

Kanokwan Gerini

 

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Introduction : The archives on the Turin Exhibition, 1911 in Thailand

In National Archives Thailand, there are archives on the Turin Exhibition, 1911 which are now well-kept in microfilms. They consist of official correspondences between the Siamese and Italian parties in general and between the Committee of Management in Italy and His Majesty the King of Siam2, the President of the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions, via the Private Secretary H.R.H Prince Prachin and H.R.H Prince Devawongse, Minister of Foreign Affairs in particular; despatches by Colonel G.E. Gerini3, the Commissioner- General to H.M. the King of Siam4, Reports by Luang Montri Nikonkosā, His Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires in Paris, as well as telegrams and cables. The principle subject matters deal with the preparation of the exhibits for the Turin International Exhibition, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, the 27th of March, 1911, the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Lobour on the 29th of April, 1911, the presentation of Colonel G.E. Gerini to H.M. the King of Italy, problems concerning the Siamese Pavilion, the display of the Siamese exhibits and the nomination of Special Jury for the Turin Exhibition5. These extant official documents will be mainly used as references, along with G.E.Gerini’s own catalogue of the Siamese Section at the International Exhibition of Industry and Labour, Siam and its Productions, Arts, and Manufactures,6 to interpret the roles of Colonel G.E.Gerini as the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition in 1911.

 

For a century, the prominent roles of Colonel Gerini as the Commissioner-General of H.M. of Siam at the Turin Exhibition have been echoed in the Siamese national archives, almost unknown to the public. His roles and judgments were found important to the preparation and organization of Siamese exhibition in Turin. Besides, they were well-accepted by personage connected with the organization commission, for example, H.H. Prince Rajanī from Ministry of Finance who was a Vice President of Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions; H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā, Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was a member of Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions; Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires in Paris; Monsieur Corragioni d’ Orelli, the Councillor of the Royal Legation; and most important of all, His Majesty the King of Siam.

 

In reconstructing his roles, three aspects will be discussed in three parts. Part 1 deals with Siam and the Turin International Exhibition in honour of the Jubilee of the Italian Unity. This part traces the importance of the celebration of the Italian Unity and the significance of the Turin Exhibition to Siam. It also discusses the formation of the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions led by the Crown Prince Mahā Vajirāvudh and the Executive Committee led by Colonel G.E. Gerini. Part 2 focuses on the roles of Colonel G.E. Gerini as the Commissioner-General of His Majesty the King of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition with the emphasis on his initiatives, judgments, responsibilities and diplomatic roles. Particularly, it illustrates Gerini and the arrangements for the exhibition at Turin in 1908, Gerini and His Majesty the King of Italy, Gerini and His Siamese Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires, and Gerini and Siam’s nomination of a Special Juror for the Turin Exhibition. Part 3 portrays Gerini and the success of Siamese Pavilion. This part starts with the installation of the Siamese pavilion, followed by the great success from many point of views, the descriptive catalogue of the Siamese section, the impressive opening ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion on the 27th of May and the close on the 20th of November, 1911.

 

I. Siam and the Turin International Exhibition of Industries and Labour in honour of the Jubilee of the Italian Unity (1911)

On the 14th of March 1861, the Parliament of Turin, the capital of Sardegna, proclaimed the union of the various Italian States under the Victor Emmanuel II, King of Sardegna, who was proclaimed King of Italy on the 27th of March and the same day Rome was declared Capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

 

In 1911, the Kingdom of Italy celebrated her Jubilee of the Italian unity. The ceremony of commemoration took place at the Capitale (town hall) in the old Aula Senetoriale. His Majesty of Siam’s Legation to the Court of Italy, represented by Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires in Paris and M. de Rychman, was officially invited by the Italian Government to attend the ceremonies which took place in Rome on the 27th of March, 1911. On the occasion of great anniversary, the King of Siam sent telegram of congratulations direct to H.M. the King and Queen of Italy.

 

The Turin International Exhibition of Industries and Labours was made by the Italian Government and the town to celebrate the greatest solemnity of the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation the kingdom of Italy and to show the progress of the country within the last fifty and more in all branches of Industries and commerce. Many foreign countries were invited to participate in this grand exhibition. Siam received the invitation with enthusiasm and decided to respond with a show of its own products. From Siam point of view, the participation of the Siamese exhibits at Turin International Exhibition were the token of esteem and friendship given by Siam to Italy and a grate manifestation, worthy of the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy7.

The formation of the commissions and Gerini

The Siamese and Italian organization team of this international exhibition consists of the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions and the Executive Committee. The former was constituted of H.R.H. the Crown Prince Mahā Vajirāvudh as the President, H.H. Prince Rajanī as Vice President, H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā, H.E. Phyā Srī Sunthōn Vohān as committee and A. Cecil Carteras, Secretary-General.8 The main responsibility was the administration of the foreign shows and preparations of the products and exhibits.9 For the Committee of Management in Italy, King Chulalongkorn entrusted Colonel G.E. Gerini, who honestly and loyally served the Kingdom of Siam for 25 years, as the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam, Architect A. Rigotti as Technical Director of the work of erection of the pavilion and Chevalier Govanni Vigna dal Ferro as Secretary. Their works were to attend to all the preparations for constructing the pavilion, receiving and putting in order the Siamese exhibits as well as the management, operation and promotion of the commercial and diplomatic relations in Turin International Exhibition. Both the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions and the Executive Committee were after all supported by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Siam, H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Davawongse Varopakar and His Majesty’s Legation in Paris, Luang Montri Nikonkosā and other Royal Legations of Siam in Rome and Paris.


 

The relationship between the Crown Prince Mahā Vajirāvudh, the President of the Royal Siamese commission for foreign Exhibition and Colonel Gerini, the Commissioner-General to H.M. the King of Siam in the Committee of Management in Italy was perpetually pleasing. This brought good results of the Siam exhibition in Turin. In 1895, King Chulalongkorn graciously granted a royal approval and a permission upon the request of Gerini to dedicate his book on Chulakantamangala or the Tonsure Ceremony as Performed in Siam10 to H.R.H. Prince Mahā Vajirāvudh 'for whom the tonsure, besides consecrating transition from infancy to adolescence, preluded his departure for European climes, where he is now acquiring the refinements, arts and sciences of western ci vilization'.11 In 1905 when H.R.H Prince Mahā Vajirāvudh established a Thai Journal Dvi-panya and held a position of editor, Gerini was honored by him as 'a world famous scholar who has more profound and precise knowledge of ancient Thai subject than most Thai people'12 and was invited to contribute a series of articles in Thai language in his journal. In 1911, as the editor of the catalogue of the Siamese Section at the Turin International Exhibition, Colonel Gerini successively invited the Crown Prince who was a genial poet and playwright to contribute an English article about Siamese Theatre in the catalogue. Significantly, it was in this book that Colonel Gerini also presented the new King of Siam for the first time to the world of industry and commerce as a modern sovereign:

As for the actual H.M the King Vajirāvudh , who only a few months ago succeeded his father, the fact of his having completed his studies in one of the most famed universities and in other high schools in Europe gives full guarantee that during his reign the work of his two worthy predecessors will be vigorously carried on; so that in this important direction Siam will, in the near future, be brought to the level of the most advanced nations.(SPAM:12)

Without doubt, it was this good formation of the two commissions initiated by King Chulalongkorn that brought splendid success in the Turin International Exhibition to Siam.

 

II. Colonel G.E. Gerini as the Commissioner-General of His Majesty the King of Siam at the Turin Exhibition

Gerini and the arrangements for the exhibition at Turin in 1908

As the Commission-General , Colonel G.E. Gerini, the Commissioner-General and Mr A. C. Carter, Secretary-General to the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions proceeded to Turin in the beginning of September, 1908, for the preliminary agreements with the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition. The mission was a great success. Gerini’s idea to erect in Turin a special Pavilion in the national style for the Siamese section was accepted by Siamese Government. This type of architecture known in Siam as prāsād, which was a cruciform on plan with its triple-storied polychrome roofs and its tapering central spire. It was built in royal palaces as the royal throne hall and residence for the king. Gerini chose the best location for the splendid pavilion in genuine Siamese style, that is, on the right bank of the River Po, culminating in front of the green hill as a background. This initiative shows Gerini’s profound understanding of true identity of Siam. Besides it was able to bring Siam to the world's attention in every directions, namely, trades, commerce, as well as arts and cultures.

Gerini and His Majesty the King of Italy

I beg to inform you that I have been attending, with all the Diplomatic Corps, the opening of International Exhibition by H.M. the King of Italy, and I have presented Gerini to His Majesty who was extremely gracious…

Montri

The above extract comes from of the telegram from Luang Montri13 to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse, Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Torino 29th April 1911 14, which was the day of opening ceremony of the Turin International Exhibition. It is obvious from the telegram message that the presentation of Colonel Gerini to the King of Italy was the first priority of the mission to report to H.M the King of Siam.

 

The complete report by Luang Montri that followed in June of the same year reveals that the King of Italy received at the palace all Chiefs of the diplomatic mission who presented to His Majesty the respective Commissioners of their countriesand he was particularly gracious to Luang Montri and Colonel Gerini. His Majesty the King of Italy made many inquiries as follows:

 

Colonel Gerini and I (Luang Montri) were consequently invited into the interior hall where His Majesty the King of Italy was standing by himself in the middle of the room. I paid obeisance to His Majesty the King of Italy who kindly exchanged handshake with me and asked whether I spoke English. I replied that I spoke French. Then I presented the respective Commissioner-General to His Majesty the King of Siam at Turin Exhibition to the King of Italy. The King asked what his name was. I replied that his name was Colonel Gerini. The King said that he knew this name and asked whether it was the one who translated the letters from His Majesty King Chulalongkornto His Majesty. Colonel Gerini accepted that it was so. Then the King of Italy had a conversation with Colonel Gerini in Italian language, asking about his immigrate to Bangkok. Then the king asked Colonel Gerini what I was. Colonel Gerini replied that I was Le Chargé d’Affaires de Siam. The King turned to me and said he perceived that because it was recently that the Siamese Ambassador had presented the envoy’s credentials to His Majesty. I told His Majesty that the Ambassador was in Bangkok at the moment. The King of Italy made inquiries about the present King of Siam whether he had accompanied his father, the former King Chulalongkorn to Rome once before. I replied that it was so, the present King accompanied King Chulalongkorn to Italy in his first visit to Italy. The King of Italy said that he remembered seeing their Majesty in a photograph. Then the King turned to Colonel Gerini and asked about the Siamese exhibition. He expressed his great satisfaction at the participation of Siam in the Exhibition and promised Colonel Gerini to visit at his next visit the Siamese Pavilion. Then I paid obeisance to the King who shook hand with me and said to me in French “Au revoir et merci.15

 

It was really a gracious reception of the King of Italy and reflected not only a friendly diplomatic relationship between Siam and Italy and the Siamese and Italian courts but also the kind interest and good supports the King of Italy had for his compatriot Colonel Gerini and the extraordinary services Gerini performs for the Kings of the two nations.

 

Having served the court of Siam for 25 years, Colonel Gerini highly observed the rules, regulations, etiquettes, protocols and positioned himself properly and correctly especially about having an audience with the King of Italy. The Commissioners of the countries officially presented at the Turin exhibition were not to be present without their Ambassadors. The Ambassadors had to present the Commissioners to the King. In this respect, Luang Montri told in his report to the King of Siam about the incident that at first all the Ambassadors were told at the opening ceremony in the morning that they were invited to have an audience with the King of Italy at 5 pm. in the evening. However, at 3 pm. at the Gala Concert of the exhibition, due to a bad and rather confused communication of a cabinet officer, they were told that the Ambassadors did not have to go, only the commissioners were to be present. Realizing that it was not right according to the diplomatic protocol, Colonel Gerini was hesitated to be present without the chief of the diplomatic mission, that is Luang Montri, and decided that they go together to the Royal Palace. Fortunately, upon their arrival, they found the Austrian Ambassador and some others waiting to present their Commissioners to the King of Italy. Having been waiting for one hour, after the other Ambassadors had already had an audience with the King, they were invited into the room where the King of Italy was seen standing in the middle of it. Consequently, Luang Montri was able to present Colonel Gerini to the King of Italy. The Swiss and Chinese Ambassadors and Ambassadors of many countries complained that the cabinet officer did not inform about the presentation of their commissioners to the King of Italy. The Chinese Ambassador told Luang Montri that Italian Prime Minister was very angry at the cabinet officer, while the Swiss Ambassador was sorry for his Commissioner who deserved to have an audience with the King of Italy as this was the great opportunity ever for him. For Colonel Gerini, it was right and proper for the opportunity he received in this case.

Gerini and His Siamese Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires

In 1911 Luang Montri, His Majesty the King of Siam’s Chargé d’Affaires, was invited as the Chief of the Mission to the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition. In the report of the Turin International Exhibition to His Majesty the King of Siam, he expressed his admiration and appreciation for Gerini’s warm reception.

 

Colonel Gerini, during the whole time of his stay in that town, has done his utmost to facilitate the Siamese Representative his mission. 16.

 

Primarily, he received Luang Montri and the Councillor of the Legation, M. Corragioni d’ Orelli at the station by himself and took them to stay at Hotel de la Ville de Bologna. In another part of the report, Luang Montri repeated Colonel’s kind attention and generosity that he was provided with all comforts and conveniences. Colonel Gerini kindly rented a car especially for the Siamese Representative. This car was available at all time for a mission. Without the car, it would have caused him a lot of inconveniences and troubles because there were a great number of visitors to the opening ceremony of the Turin exhibition. Besides during the first two to three days of the exhibition, it was impossible to find a good and comfortable car at all.

 

Gerini’s working spirit was appreciated by Luang Montri. He found that although Gerini had to confront many difficulties, he made it a labor of love. In his report to His Majesty the King of Siam, he told a serious problem about the products that it was unfortunate that some fragile products that were transported to Turin were found damaged and broken upon their arrival in Turin. This was probably due to poor packaging, particularly the glass of the picture frames and miscellaneous things in glass bottles . However, it was fortunate that we had Colonel Gerini who was very industrious, thoughtful and well-concerned. He had them cautiously fixed so that they were fine for displaying. This showed that Colonel Gerini put his heart in the works.

 

After the opening of the Exhibition, Luang Montri discussed with Colonel Gerini a great many questions concerning the Pavilion and the display of the Siamese exhibits. They all agreed that the exhibition at Turin was very important, although it was not the capital of Italy but it was organized in celebration of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom. Turin had been chosen for International Exhibitions on more than one occasion, in 1884, 1898 and 1902 but this year was the greatest. Many foreign countries participated in their exhibition took this opportunity to show the best of their countries not only products but arts and crafts. They wished Siamese government to send more special Thai crafts such as Tupperware, silver wares, classical musical instruments, royal barges for the show. Besides, they suggested to prepare captions of the beautiful photographs of railways stations in Siam for the viewers' information. Such ideas from their discussions show the desire to render the show worthy of Siam, worthy of Turin.

Gerini and Siam’s nomination of a special Juror for the Turin Exhibition

Professor J.H Gore, the former Commissioner-General for His Majesty the King of Siam for Siamese exhibits at Paris in 1900 and in St. Louis in 1904 wrote a letter dated Washington D.C. May 5th, 1911 to His Majesty the King of Siam17, offering his services as member of the Superior Jury for Siam at the Turin Exposition. Prof. Gore claimed his success in securing awards for Siamese exhibits in Paris and St. Louis and his special knowledge and the eight-time experience as Superior Juries at International Expositions. A copy of his letter was sent to Luang Sonofabitch, to have him commend his offer to the appropriate authorities in the Siamese Government.18 However, the Vice President of the Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions, H.H. Prince Rajanī, expressed his opinion in his letter to His Majesty the King, the President of this Commission that when Prof. Gore was the Commissioner-General of St. Louis Exhibition, he was naturally the Siamese Superior Juror. Similarly, based on the same protocol, as we already had Colonel Gerini as the Commissioner-General for this Turin Exhibition, it was suitable to appoint Colonel Gerini the Superior Jury. On the other hand, we needed to ask the Commissioner (Gerini) to find information on the rules and regulations related to the nomination of the Jury for the Turin Exhibition first.19 Colonel Gerini sent a telegram that the nomination was yet to be done; however, he was assured that the one Jury shall be nominated by Siamese Government, “International not yet formed am assured appointment at least one juror shall be granted us .. Gerini.” His Majesty the King consequently decided to appoint Prof Gore as a Special juror. A telegram dated 11th July, 1911 was sent to Gerini which read, “King desires appoint Professor Gore as one and you to recommend another for special Jury. Reply if proposal is in accord with Exhibition Rules.” On the 29th of July, H.H. Prince Rajanī and H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā on behalf of the Royal Siamese Commission of Foreign Exhibition submitted for His Majesty’s information an extract on the question of Siam’s nomination of a Special Juror for the Turin Exhibition from Colonel Gerini’s dispatch No. 22 dated 23rd June together with a copy of the Regulations applicable to such appointment then just received. According to the documents, it was obvious that the matter of the Jury had long been receiving the earnest attention of Colonel Gerini who would do his best to obtain the best possible result in the interest of Siamese exhibitors.

 

According to the regulations, the appointment of Superior and Class Jurors rested with the Commissioner-General of each nation, within the limits of numbers allotted by the Executive Commission of the Exhibition. Although at first it was still doubtful whether Siam would be able to nominate her own Special Juror or would have to share the right with other Powers, thanks to the effort of Colonel Gerini, 'the appointment of a special Juror had been allotted to Siam in conjunction with China and Persia. Besides these Powers had agreed to the selection of Commander Vic Mantegna as recommended by Colonel Geritol20 as shown in copies of cables in question :

 

Copies of cables from Colonel Gerini

Dated 17th, August, 1911

Duke Bangkok High Juror alloyed us conjointly

with Persia which prefers Mantegna reply

instantly approval or instructions 23 class

Curers allotted us when an appointing urgency

Gerini.”

 

Dated 20th., August, 1911

Duke Bangkok China also wants Mantegna and

proposes our joining her which seem preferable

urges reply Gerini”

 

Colonel Gerini's eventual proposals for these appointments are : High Juror: Commander Vico Mantegazza, who was High Juror for the Argentine Republic, for Japan, at Milan exhibition in 1906 and now Secretary General to the foreign Commissions at the Rome Exhibition; Class Jurors : Professor Cesare Ferro, late of Siam; Chevalier Giovanni Vigna dal Ferro, our Secretary here; Professor Annibale Rigotti (late of Siam) our Architect, acting.21 It should be noted that Colonel Gerini did not nominate himself as the Superior Juror.

 

The nomination of the Jury was finally approved of by the king in His Majesty’s letter to the Royal Commission No 4/545 date 10th, August 22 and a cable was then sent to Colonel Gerini:

 

Copy of cable to Colonel Gerini

Dated 17th., August 1911

Gerini Siamese Pavilion Exhibition Turin

Re Your cable seventeenth and report 22 commission

accepts your recommendations regarding Jurors.

Duke”

 

'Willing to undertake the honorific task' and having 'the experience, authority and high connection'23 were Colonel Gerini's main reasons for the nomination of Jury. His strong affirmation for this judgment was remarkable:

 

I am under the impression to have made a good choice, and presume that with the above appointments I can obtain the best possible results in the interest of Siamese exhibitions. . . . In the event of the Royal Commission wishing to make any alteration or any new nomination, kindly inform me forthwith by wire, and I shall endeavor, if still in time, to conform to such instructions. I would, however, venture to submit that in the event of any change having to be made, I must decline all responsibility as to the results that may be thereby attained.24

 

Colonel Gerini's judgment was right and constructive for Siam. Siam ultimately received the total 89 prizes from this exhibition: 5 Grands Prix, 10 Diplômes d’ Honneur, 21 Gold Medals, 25 Silver Medals, 18 Bronze Medals, 10 Mentions Honorables. According to Colonel Gerini's precise calculation, the number of prizes won in relation to the number of exhibits in the Siam Pavilion yields 92.71 and 96.87 per cent of prizes. (SPAM:282-3) For Colonel Gerini, this is sufficient to say “The result is highly encouraging, the more especially as it outdistances anything yet achieved by Siam at World's Fairs in which she has participated priors to the present one.” 25

 

Having made great contributions to the success of the Siamese Exhibition at Turin, Colonel Gerini,

a Commissioner-General of Siam to the Turin Exhibition was awarded “Diploma of High Merit” by High Jury of the Turin Exhibition. 26

III. Colonel Gerini and the success of the Siamese Pavilion

Gerini and the Installation of the Siamese Pavilion

A pavilion in pure Siamese style was erected for the first time at the St. Louis Exhibition in 1904. It was a reproduction of the temple or principal building of Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok. In 1911, the Siamese government, in favour of the idea of Gerini, built a special pavilion in a national style and of the type called prāsād (a Siamese royal palace) for the Siamese section. This Siamese pavilion at Turin, as described in the catalogue,“for its magnitude and faithful reproduction of native architecture surpasses all the preceding ones.” (SPAM: xlvi)

The best location was selected for Siamese location. It was on the right bank of the river Po, just below the Princess Isabella Bridge. The drafting up of plans for the building was entrusted to the architects, M. Tamagno and A. Rigotti, of the Technical Bureau of the Public Works Department in Siam. The work of erection of the pavilion was forthwith started in July, 1910, under the superintendence of Architect A. Rogotti, who had meanwhile returned to Italy. The contract for the framework and parts in wood was given to Mr N. Previgliano; the principal stucco mouldings were entrusted to sculptor Mr C. Musso, and the others to Mr. U. Miniati; and the gilding, painting, and decorations to Chev. G.B. Beroggio and E.D. Smeriglio.

The pavilion with its collections was opened with fitting ceremony on May 27, 1911, in the presence of a numerous and selected company of representatives and guests. It was the earliest, if not the very first, sections of the exhibition to be in complete order, and from that day it was open to the public.

Gerini and the success of the Siamese Pavilion from Italian and Siamese points of views

From Italian point of views, the Siamese Pavilion was highly recognized. The Stampa, the leading Turin paper, on the opening day , described it as “one of the most interesting and striking feature of the exhibition.”27 Besides, there were many Italian and foreign periodicals that published accounts on the Siam Exhibition at Turin 1911, the opening ceremony of Siam Pavilion, special appreciation of dramatic masks, the visit of H.R.H the Duke of Bisnulôk to the Siam and, most important of all, the visit of H.M. the King of Italy to Siam Pavilion.

 

Colonel Gerini made a complete list of periodicals (daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, magazine) referring to Exhibition and recorded in the descriptive English Catalogue of the Siamese Section (1912). The list contained names of periodicals, place of publication, date of issue and subjects. This detailed information is one of the most important references to the study of this exhibition. The Italian periodicals included L’Esposizione di Torino, ill, mag., Secolo, d, Italia Centrale, d., Gazzetta del Popolo, d., Adriatico, d. (Venice), Secolo XIX, d. (Genoa). Giorno, d. (Naples), Capitale, d. (Rome), Gran Mondo, ill, fort mag. (Milan), etc. A large number of foreign periodicals also published accounts on the Turin Exhibition, Siam Pavilion and exhibition, biography of Commissioner-General for Siam at Turin Exhibition, reference to characteristic appearance of Siam Pavilion. They were Progresso Itali-Americano, d. (New York), Piccolo, d.(Trieste), St. Petersburger Herald, d. (St Petersburg) Wiener Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung, d.(Vienna) Patria degli Italiani, d.(Buenos Ayres),etc. (SPAM:294-300). This reflects the success of the Siamese pavilion and the efficient public relations by the Siamese and Italian teams under the direction of Colonel Gerini.

 

Another impression and appreciation of the pavilion comes from Comm. Bianchi who, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition, conveyed his appreciation to the Siamese Pavilion in his speech given at the official opening ceremony on May 27, 1911:

 

We have full cause to rejoice that the most beautiful and interesting products of Siam are enshrined in such a fine casket, really worthy of them, in a building as highly elegant as original, and which reproduces all the characteristic charm of the Siamese national architecture. We cannot more aptly express our feeling of gratitude and admiration than by reverently shouting: Long live His Majesty the King of Siam! (SPAM:277)

 

In addition to this, the Prime Minister Signor Giolitte praised to Siam in the most flattering terms when he had a long conversation with Luang Montri, M, Corragioni d’ Crelli and Colonel Gerini, and expressed his conviction that the relations between the two countries would become closer and friendlier every day.

 

From the Siamese point of views, the Siamese Pavilion was a great success. In a telegram from Luang Montri, the Chargé d’Affaires to His Majesty the King of Siam dated Turin 29th April, 1911, which was the opening ceremony date, read, “I am very glad to find the pavilion of Siam extremely pretty and considered a great success.”28 Besides, Luang Montri described the beauty of the Siamese Pavilion on the bank of River Po in his report to His Majesty the King of Siam:

 

The Siamese Pavilion rose on the bank of the river which was visible almost from every part of the exhibition. To the left was a pavilion of Zaire and to the right was the pavilion of United States of America. There was a bridge newly built across the river between the Siamese and American pavilions The Siamese Pavilion was a replica of the Sutthaisawan Throne Hall and was painted green. The pavilion was surmounted by a roof in two superposed tiers surmounted by a pyramid-shaped spire, culminating in a slender finial. With its two main arms formed by the wing galleries stretching out on both sides, its extends along the right bank of the Po. There is a porch in the front. A double terrace had green balustrades rails craved in Thai design and small white posts. On the lower terrace are restaurants and coffee bar that served Thai coffee from Chantaburi province. From the either side of the upper terrace is a flight of rather steep steps gradually lead down to the river bank. Behind the Siamese Pavilion is a high forest. The colour of the roof matched well with that of the forest. The Siamese pavilion was highly praised by visitors, Italian people and presses. 29

 

Luang Montri made a nice conclusion in his report to His Majesty the King of Siam that the splendid success was the fine work of Colonel Gerini and the architects. Having been in Siam for a long time and having profound knowledge on Thai architecture, Colonel Gerini engaged the skilled Italian architects Tamagno and Rigotti who worked in Siam, along with other fine Italian sculptors and painters team whose names are above mentioned to exercise their talents and special experience on Thai architecture to the full to erect this splendid Thai-style prāsād . The Siamese pavilion was thus a precise representation of the Siamese traditional prāsād. Luang Montri repeated that the layout and architecture was perfectly right. If it were to be built by architect and engineer who had never been in Siam, it would not have been as good as this no matter how well they followed the plan. This task could only be completed by a team with special talents on the construction of traditional Thai wooden architecture30.

Gerini and a descriptive catalogue of Siamese section

Another excellent contribution by Colonel G.E Gerini to the Siamese section is a descriptive catalogue of the Siamese Section. The main concern for him is how to 'reveal herself (Siam) to the world in an aspect which before was a sealed book to the many' (SPAM: 283). In the preface to the Italian Edition of 1911, he wrote,

 

There has hitherto existed in Europe only an imperfect knowledge of Siam, her natural resources and productions, as well as of the remarkable progress she has made during the last fifty years, the new thoroughfares she has thrown open to industry and commerce, and the facilities and possibilities for trade created” (SPAM: iii-iv)

 

For this reason, he found it necessary to comply essays on the exhibits on the basis of the most reliable data, by writers who had a good knowledge on the subject they dealt with and he hope that their short essays for each exhibit will prove useful. The catalogue contains descriptive and detailed information, notes, general remarks and statistical data on every Siamese exhibits31, illustrated with a list of exhibits, numerous plates, especially designed map of Siam in colours, a plan and a tri-chromic picture of the Siamese Pavilion.

 

In this catalogue, His Majesty the King of Siam, Mahā Vajirāvudh, wrote “Notes on the Siamese Theatre,” in which he gave a brief outline of the condition of the genuine Siamese drama such as masked drama (khôn), ordinary drama(lakhōn), a so-called li-ke performance, marionettes (hun) and transparencies( nang). Besides, there is a list of characters in the Rāmāyana which also serves as a sort of catalogue of the collection of the theatrical masks presented in the Siamese Pavilion.

 

Gerini wrote the introduction of the catalogue consisting of Siam and Italy, Geographical and Commercial notes on present Siam, Siam and International exhibitions, Siam at the Turin International Exhibition and more than 20 essays covering a variety of fields of studies; for example, photography and its applications; public works; fishing, silkworm culture; food industry and products- rice, coffee, spices ; ceramic industries, Industry Perfumery, Silk weaving, wearing-apparel industry- dress and vestments, embroidery, fans; cabinet work and artistic furniture; the art of painting; paper; the pictorial postcard. His essays are very informative, with historical and statistical notes and most recent data, and reliable references. This shows his excellent expertise in the knowledge of the Kingdom of Siam.32 Other writers in this catalogue were from the Royal Education Department, W.F. Llocolor:#660033;yd, The Royal Agricultuspan lang= span lang= span lang= ral C style=en-USollege, C. Pappayanopulos.

 

It was in 1904 on the occasion of St. Louis Exhibition that Siam officially published for the first time an illustrated book, The Kingdom of Siam at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition 33, the chapters of which were written by specialists possessing first-hand knowledge of Siam so as to make the possibilities of the country and her products better known. This book was a modspan lang=/spanel for the catalogue of Turin Exhibition. However, it should be admitted that in terms of practicality, usefulness and aesthetics, Gerini's catalogue surpassed and completed the preceding one. With a practical formation of the catalogue, Colonel Gerini provided his visitors the best guide to the Siam Pavilion and the show in a virtual reality style, starting from the general survey of the exterior features of the pavilion into the interior, proceeding into Gallery A, Hall A on the left-hand side, the Central Hall to Hall B on the right-hand side and Gallery B and out to the terrace to view the external decorations and the beautiful River Po, or in his own word, 'to examine the curious little guilt bells hanging from the eaves, which, swing in the breeze, emit a sound so sweet and Po-etic (just as befits to the Po banks)' (SPAM: lxiv). In the catalogue, there is a pictorial plan of the Siamese Pavilion illustrating the precise spot of each group of products that were systematically classified into 23 groups 57 classes. Besides, there is a list of exhibits and most recent data on products, industries and trading of Siam together with descriptive historical, statistical and commercial notes on each subjects. They are all useful for business men, manufacturers and international visitors. Colonel Gerini also published in his catalogue the addresses of the Commercial firms that exhibited in the Siam Pavilion for future contacts from international traders.

 

Importantly, the catalogue was printed in two languages. The first edition issued in July 1911 was in Italian language and the English edition which was a revised and an enlarged one followed in December 1911. Besides, all noteworthy stories of the pre and post-exhibition and all Siamese and Italian personages involved were included. This makes the catalogue internationally known meaningful for all.

 

Apart from the catalogue, Colonel Gerini made a separate photo album, Souvenir Album of Siam at the Turin International Exhibition, 1911. It was an elegant big album, 42x32 cm, with a cover made of red canvas. The English title on the cover was engraved in gold, under which there is a metallic medal illustrating a Siamese flag (a white elephant on red background). The album consisted of nineteen beautiful black and white photographs of the Siam Pavilion and the exhibits in each hall with English captions. The photographs were taken by Alfieri & Lacroix- Milan. Two of these albums are available in Italy. They are the property of members of Gerini Family.

 

In short, this catalogue, together with the photo album, was and still is, a complete form of 'a narrative of the participation of Siam in the Turin International Exhibition from its inception to the very end and will remain as a standing momento of Siam's industry, activity, and success in connection with that happy event.' (SPAM: vii)

 

Gerini and the Opening Ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion

Colonel Gerini represented Siam at the opening ceremony of the Siamese Pavilion which was officially opened on the 27th of May, 1911 and the exhibits were displayed to the public until the 19th of November, 1911.

 

At the opening ceremony on May 27th , 1911, many distinguished guests were present. They included Senator J. Vittorelli, Prefect of the Turin Province; Senator S. Frola, President of the General Committee of the Turin Exhibition; Comm.A. Bianchi, Vice-President of the Executive Committee of the same; most of the Commissioner-Generals, or their Deputies of the other nations represented at the Exhibition; delegates of the Turin Municipality, Chamber of Commerce, and of the principal Government and Town institutions, the leading artists and business men and the representatives of the Press, both local and foreign. The ceremony was done in front of the niche of honour adorned with the life-size portraits of the King of Siam and his august parents and draped with Siamese royal flags.

 

The proceedings opened with a speech by Colonel Gerini, the Commissioner-General. He conveyed the greetings of Siam to Italy and Turin, expressing the best wished for the success of the Exhibition. He emphasized the amicable relations between Italy and Siam. He concluded that it was the great honour of having the company at the opening ceremony of the Siam Pavilion and expressed the wish that the exhibition would lead to further increase if commercial exchange between Italy and Siam for their mutual benefit.

 

Senator Frola, the President of the General Committee of the Turin Exhibition, responded that by the presence Exhibition, Siam had fully revealed herself to the world as one of he most progressive nations, socially as well as industrially. He ended by thanking for having participating in the Turin exhibition and wishing her Sovereign, people and country every possible success. Comm. Bianchi followed on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition.After that, Colonel Gerini led the company around on a visit to the exhibits displayed in the pavilion. Before the day closed over fifty thousand people had made their acquaintance with the Siamese exhibits. The halls were so crowded that progression became a problem. It is no exaggeration to say that every visitor to the exhibition made a particular point of seeing the Siam Pavilion, the faithful reproduction of the architectural monuments.

 

It was the great honour of having welcomed His Majesty the King of Italy who visited the Siam Pavilion on October 5, 1911. Other Siamese Royalty were the H.R.H Prince of Bisnulôk on September 25-26, H.R.H Prince of Songkhlā on May 23-24. The news of their visits were reported in many Italian newspapers, namely Corriere della Sera, d., Sera, d. Unione, d. in Milan; Gazzetta di Torino, d., Momenta, d., Stampa, d., in Torino and Italie, d, in Rome. etc.

Conclusion : Gerini and his last duty in His Majesty’s service

On the 11th of October 1913, two years after the splendid and well-deserved success of the Siam Exhibition in Turin, Colonel Gerolamo Emilio Gerini died at the age of 53 in the same city where the Siamese Pavilion was born. The mission as the commissioner –General at Turin International Exhibition in 1911, responsible for the preparations, installations and operations of the Siam Pavilion, was the last duty he performed in the service of His Majesty the King of Siam. His hope to make a Siamese Pavilion with its collections 'surpassing all the preceding ones' and 'will be highly appreciated and will certainly find a lasting echo in the heart of the Siamese nation' (SPAM: xlix.) has come true. His name will always be echoed in the history of our country forever.

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Bibliography

Department of Royal Secretariat. Letter to H.R.H. Prince H.R.H. Prince Krom Muen Nakhonchaisri Suradech. December 16th 1905. No.41/1220. H.M. the King of Siam to graciously conferCommander (Third Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (Nibhabhon) to Colonel Phra Sarasasana Balakhandh (Gerini). National Archives Thailand.

D' Orelli, Corragioni. 1911. Report on the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour. 29th of April 1911. in Luang Montri.Letter to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse. June 8th, 1911.Microfilm No. 6/T15, pp. 82-3. National Archives Thailand.

Gerini, Gerolamo Emilio. 1976. Chulakantamangala or the Tonsure Ceremony as Performed in Siam. Reprinted from the Bangkok Times Press edition, 1895. Bangkok: The Siam Society.

. 1999. Siam and its Productions, Arts, and Manufactures. Reprinted from the English edition, Stephen Austin and Sons, Ltd., Hertford, 1912. Bangkok: White Lotus.

. Letter to Luang Montri. April 18th, 1911. Preliminary six letters ofinvitation to the opening ceremony of Turin Exhibitionon the 29th April and request for a list of Siamese gentlemen or others to be invited. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand.

Gore J.H. 1911. Letter to H.M the King of Siam. May 5th 1911. Offer of service as member for Siam of the Superior Jury at the Turin International Exhibition. National Archives Thailand

. 1911. Letter to Luang Sanpakitch, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires, Washington D.C. May 6th 1911. Offer of service as member for Siam of the Superior Jury at the Turin International Exhibition. Microfilm No. 6/T15, p. 49. National Archives Thailand

H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā. 1911. Letter to H.R.H Prince Prachin, His Private Secretary to H.M. The King. May 9th, 1911. Prof J.H. Gore's offer of service as member for Siam of the Superior Jury at the Turin International Exhibition. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand

H.H. Prince Rajanī and H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā. 1910. Letter to His Majesty the King. December 15th 1910. Request for the royal advice regarding the collections of Siamese products ready for show in the Turin International exhibition. Record of the Sixth Reign, Ministry of Finance Affair.National Archives Thailand.

H.H. Prince Rajanī. 1911. Letter to His Majesty the King via H.R.H Prince Prachin, His Private Secretary. June 19th, 1911. Consideration on Prof J.H. Gore's offer of service as member for Siam of the Superior Jury at the Turin International Exhibition and regulations of the Turin Exhibition. Microfilm No.6/T15, p. 53-4. National Archives Thailand.

H.H. Prince Rajanī and H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā. Letter to H.R.H. The Private Secretary to His Majesty the King. The 29th July, 1911. With attachment of copy of telegram sent to Colonel Gerini on the 11th, July,1911; copy of telegram received from Colonel Gerini on the 15Th July, 1911; and Extract from Colonel Gerini's Despatch No. 22 dated 23rd, June 1911. Siam's nomination of a Special Juror for the Turin Exhibition. National Archives Thailand.

. Letter to His Majesty the King via H.R.H Prince Prachin, the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King. Bangkok 25th August 1911. With attachment of copy of cable from Colonel Gerini dated 17th August, 1919 and 20th, August, 1911 and copy of cable to Colonel Gerini dated 17th August 1911. The Appointment of a Special Juror of Turin Exhibition. National Archives Thailand

H.R.H. Prince Krom Muen Nakhonchaisri Suradech, Commander-in-chief of Department of War. Letter to H.M. The King of Siam. December 15th 1905 (R.S. 124). No.33/12092 Ccolor:#6600/span33; olonel Phra Sarasasana Balakhand (Gerini) to receive higher decorations upon his permanent leave. National Archives Thailand.

H.R.H Prince Prachin, His Private Secretary to H.M. the King. 1910. Letter to the Royal Siamese Commission of Foreign Exhibitions. December 16th, 1910. H.M. The King's desire to inspect the collection before it was sent to Italy. Record of the Sixth Reign, Department of Royal Secretariat.National Archives Thailand.

H.R.H. Prince Devawongse.1911. Letter to H.R.H Prince Krom Muen Prachin Kitibhadi, the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King. May 1st , 1911. With attachment of copy of telegram from Luang Montri to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse, dated Torino 29th April 1911, received at Bangkok on the 30th April 1911 at 11.48 A.M. Having attending the opening ceremony of the Turin International Exhibition and presenting Gerini to the King of Italy. Record of the Sixth Reign, Ministry of Foreign Affair.Microfilm No 5/T15. National Archives Thailand. Thailand.

H.R.H the Crown Prince MahāVajirāvudh. (ed.) 'Editorial' in Dvi-panya Journal, April, 1905.

Luang Montri, His Majesty's Chargé d’Affaires in Paris. Letter to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Paris le 20 Avril 1911. Response to the invitation. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand.

. Letter to the President of the Executive Committee. Paris le 24 Avril 1911.Response to the invitation. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand.

.Letter to H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Devawongse Varopakar, Minister of Foreign Affairs. June 8, 1911. Report on the opening of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour. Microfilm No 6/T15, pp.67-68. National Archives Thailand.

Ministry of Defence. 'A name list and biography of Siamese military officers, No. 25, G.E. Gerini' in H.R.H. Prince Bhanurangsi Swangvongse. (ed.) Yuddhakosa Military Journal. 1893.(R.S.112). Vol. 2, No.14-16. Bangkok: Vatcharin Printing Office.

Rossi, Teofilo, The President of the Executive Committee. Letter to His Majesty's Legation in Rome. Turin 7th April, 1911. Invitation to the inauguration of the Turin Exhibition on the 29th April. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand.

Sangiuliano, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Letter to Luang Montri. Turin 29th April, 1911. Invitation to the Concert in the Feast Hall, the Gala performance at the Royal Theatre, the lunch in the Palazzo Dolleani, the Ball at the Accademia Filarmonica. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand.

The Bureau of Royal Scribe and Royal Decorations. 'Chronological records of Colonel G.E. Gerini's governmental services and the military ranks, honorable titles, orders and decorations conferred by H.M. The King. 1880-1905.

The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Letter to H.M.'s Legation in Rome. Rome 19th April, 1911. Invitation to the inauguration of the International Turin Exhibition in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Kingdom Proclamation.

The President of the Executive Committee. Letters to Commissioners-General. Communications about special invitation to the inauguration of the Turin International Exhibition . Torino 14 April 1911. Microfilm No. 6/T15. National Archives Thailand

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1Kanokwan Gerini is Associate Professor of Literature in English at Department of Western Languages, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, Bangkok. She is Gerini scholar, co-founder, editor and curator of GISSAD (Gerini International Siamese Studies Archive and Database) webpage, publications, exhibitions; organizer of Italian-Thai conferences and archival exhibitions on G.E. Gerini since 1997. At present she is a Ph.D candidate in Comparative Literature at Université Blaise Pascal – Clermont-Ferrand II in France, currently doing a doctoral research on the genetic study of the multilingual writings by G.E. Gerini about the Kingdom of Siam and the Orient.

2H.M the King Vajirāvudh (1881-1925)

3Gerolamo Emilio Gerini (1860, Cisano sul Neva-1913, Turin) or Phra Sarasasana Balakhandh. Arriving in Siam with other two Italian military officers a few months after the arrival of Duke of Genoa in Siam on March 29th, 1881, Gerolamo Emilio Gerini, a young Italian Lieutenant from Pinerolo Regiment in Perugia was appointed by H.M the King Chulalongkorn an instructor of the Royal Page Bodyguards on Saturday September 10, 1881. In 1895 the King of Siam graciously entrusted him as the first Director of Military Education of Ministry of Defence whose task was to build up the military manpower and resources for the Kingdom of Siam and granted the high-ranking Siāmese title “Phra Sarasasana Balakhandh” and Commander (Third Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (1905). Colonel Gerini was the Italian Orientalist who wrote hundreds of pieces of writings about Siam in English, French, Italian and Thai. His works were well-recognized in Asia and Europe. Unlike other Italians who came to transform Siam into a modern country, he recorded, researched, investigated, compared, contrasted, synthesized, analysed different versions of facts in order to write a true history and civilization of Siam and further East for the western readers to know. In 1902, he was the official delegate from Siam to the International Congress of Orientalists at Hanoi and Orient. In 1904, he was one of the establishers of the Siam Society and was the Vice President. In 1908, he was appointed Commissioner-General of the Siam Exhibition in Turin by His Majesty King Chulalongkorn under the presidency of the Crown Prince who in 1911 ascended the throne of Siam.

4Colonel Gerini served as the Commissioner-General to the two Kings of Siam He was appointed by H.M. King Chulalongkorn in 1908 and his official missions started from then on. In 1910, King Chulalongkorn died. The new king, H.M King Vajirāvudh, who was the President of the Royal Commsion of Foreign Exhibitions, graciously entrusted Colonel Gerini to continue working in the same position until the mission was completed.

5This became an issue when Prof J.H. Gore, a Commissioner-General for Siamese exhibits in Paris in 1900 and in St. Louis in 1904 made an offer direct to His Majesty of Siam to be the member of the Superior Jury of the Turin Exposition. There are many correspondences involved including those by Colonel Gerini, the Commission-General at Turin International Exhibition.

6This descriptive catalogue was first printed for the exhibition in December, 1911. In 1912, it was revised and brought up to date, with the addition of Appendix on the results of the Siam Exhibition at Turin. This English edition was printed by Stephen Austin and Sons, Ltd., Hertford in 1912. In 1999, White Lotus Co., Ltd. Bangkok reprinted this catalogue with a forward by Dr Luciano Gerolamo Gerini, Cisano sul Neva, September, 1999. The abbreviation of this book to be used in this paper is SPAM

7M. Corragioni d’Orelli, Report on the opening ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, National Archives Thailand. (Microfilm No. 6/T15, pp. 82-3)

8From 1910, the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions was composed of H.M. the King Vajirāvudh as President, Prince Rajanī as Vice President, H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā as member and H.H. A.H. Duke as Secretary-General

9In a letter dated the 15th of December 1910, H.M Prince Rajanī and H.E. Phyā Phiphat Kosā, Vice President and a member of the Royal Commission for Foreign Exhibitions informed His Majesty the King that the collection of products was completed, except for some part which was yet to come due to the delay of some merchants and exhibitors. H.M. the King expressed his wishes to inspect it before it would be sent to Italy. The collection was arranged temporarily in halls attached to the Museum in Bangkok for the Royal visit. Leading merchants, exhibitors, principle dignitaries and personages connected with the Royal Commission for Foreign Exhibitions were present at the event on December 23, 1910.

10The best monograph on the origin and meaning of Tonsure in many cultures and civilizations and all the ceremonies performed by the commoners, nobility and members of the Royal family in Siam. Phya Anumanratjadhon, under his well-known Thai pen-name, Sathirakoses, wrote four volumes on Thai Customs, and he left out one ceremony – the tonsure ceremony- since he felt that he could not match the old savant.

11Gerini, Gerolamo Emilio. Chulakantamangala or the Tonsure Ceremony as Performed in Siam. Bangkok: The Bangkok Times Printing Office, 1895, Inner page.

12H.R.H. the Crown Prince MahāVajirāvudh. 'Editorial' in Dvi-Panya Journal 1905. Second edition,1983. Bangkok: Maha Makut Ratchawitthayalai Printing House.

13Montri or Luang Montri was the Chief of Mission of Siam at the Turin Exhibition. He was Le Chargé d’ Affaires de Siam, Paris . The Turin Exhibition lies in territory under the diplomatic jurisdiction of H.M.’s Legation in Paris.

14This telegram was then submitted for His Majesty’s information via H.R.H the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King, H.R.H Prince Krom Muen Prachin, on 1st May, 1911, It is now kept in National Archives Thailand. (Microfilm No 5/T15)

15Letter from Luang Montri, His Majesty's Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, to H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Devawongse Varopakar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Paris 8th June, 1911, received at Bangkok on the 5th July, reporting the opening of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15)

16Ibid. (Microfilm No. 5/T15)

17Letter from Prof. J. H. Gore dated Washington, D.C. May 5th, 1911 to His Majesty the King of Siam, National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No. 6/T15, p.48). In the opening of the letter Prof Gore added, “I make this offer direct to Your Majesty as I have been honoured by Your Majesty’s personal acquaintance.” This was quite different from the modest manner of Colonel Gerini’, who, having served the court of Siam for 25 years as the General-Director of Military Education (1892-1905), highly observed the protocol of the Court of Siam and never interfered in the judgment of the authorities even in the smallest possible thing. For example, when he received from the executive Committee of the Turin Exhibition a certain number of preliminary invitation to the grand opening of the Exhibition to be presided over by the King and Queen of Italy and accompanied by the Italian Sovereigns, he forwarded them to Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris, to favour him a list of the Siamese gentlemen who should be invited then he will communicate the list to the Executive Committee and issue the invitation card in time. His point was “This because I believe the question as to whom should be invited whether in Italy or abroad has better to be left entirely in your hand, especially because the Siamese Pavilion, as well as the show contained therein, lie in territory under the diplomatic jurisdiction of H.M.’s Legation in Paris”.

18Letter from Prof. J. H. Gore dated Washington, D.C. May 6th, 1911 to Luang Sanpakitch, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires, Washington D.C., National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No. 6/T15, p. 49).

19Letter from H.H. Prince Rajanī dated June 19th, 1911 to His Majesty the King via H.R.H Prince Prachin, His Private Secretary. National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No.6/T15, p. 53-4)

20Letter from H.H. Prince Rajanī dated August 25th, 1911 to His Majesty the King via H.R.H Prince Prachin, His Private Secretary. National Archives Thailand

21Gerini's Despatch No. 22 dated 23rd, June 1911

22His Majesty the King realized that the teamwork was very important to this mission. So he consequently approved Gerini&rfont-weight: normalp class=From 1910, the Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions was composed of H.M. the King /i Vajir squo;s proposal for the appointment of Superior and Class Jurors. Prof Gore’s offer was dropped.

23Extract from Colonel Gerini's despatch No. 22, dated 23 rd, June, 1911.

24Ibid.

25The previous world fairs also include Paris and St.Louis Exhibitions commissioned by Prof. Gore

26The High Jury of the Turin Exhibition awarded twenty-two honourable distinctions in acknowledgment of the high patronage and invaluable assistance which contributed so much towards the brilliant success of the Siamese Exhibition at Turin : Diploma of Special Highest Merit : H.M Mahā Vajirāvudh, King of Siam, 6 Diplomas of High Merit, 13 Diplomas of Merit, 2 Silver Medals of Collaboration.

27Corragioni d’Orelli, Report on the Opening Ceremony of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labours. National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15).

28Telegram from Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris His Majesty’s to H.R.H. Prince Devawongse, Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Torino 29th April 1911, received at Bangkok on the 30th April 1911 at 11:48 A.M. This telegram was then submitted for His Majesty’s information via H.R.H the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King, H.R.H Prince Krom Muen Prachin, on 1st May, 1911, It is now kept in National Archives Thailand. (Microfilm No 5/T15)

29Report on the opening of the Turin Exhibition of Industries and Labour, from Luang Montri, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in Paris and M. Corragioni d'Crolli, to H.R.H Prince Krom Luang Devawongse Varopakar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated Paris 8th June, 1911, received at Bangkok on the 5th July. This report was consequently presented to H.R.H Prince Prachin, the Private Secretary to His Majesty the King for His Majesty’ s information in the letter from Prince Devawongse dated July 12, 1911., National Archives Thailand (Microfilm No 5/T15 pp.67-68)

30Ibid., p.68

31Siamese exhibits were displayed in many groups and classes :

Group I Culture and Education, Class3

Group III Photography and its Application, Classes 16,17,18

Group VI Public Works, Class 35 and 37

Group VII Means of Transport, Class 38 and 40

Group VIII Navigation, Class 41 and 46

Group X Postal Service, Class 54

Group XI Sporting Industries, Class 59

Group XIII Decoration, Furniture, etc., Class 72

Group XIV Theatre, Class 77

Group XV Sylviculture and Forest Industries, Class 80

Group XVI Agriculture, Class 87, 90, 92, 95

Group XVII Food Industries and Products, Class 98 and 100

Group XVII Extractive and Chemical Industries, Class 106, 110, 115, 118, 119,122,123,124

Group XIX Textile Industries, Class 127, 130

Group XX Wearing-apparel Industry, Class 133, 135, 137

Group XXII Leather and similar Industries, Class 138

Group XXIII The Art of Painting, Class 144, 157

32Gerini wrote and published many Thai and English monographs on Siamese customs, history, religion, language, and archaeology such as A Retrospective View and Account of the Origin of “Thet Maha Chat” Ceremony” (1892)”The Art of War, Military Organization, Weapons, and Political Maxims of the Ancient Hindus” (1894), “Chulakantamangala” or the Tonsure Ceremony, as performed in Siam (1895) “A Trip to the Ancient Ruins of Kamboja” (Asiatic Quarterly Review, April 1904) and Researches on the Ptolemaic Geography of Eastern Asia (Further India and Indo-Malay Archipelago) (1909) and On Siamese Proverbs and Idiomatic Expressions (JSS,1904)

33In this book which was edited by A. Cecil Carter, Colonel Gerini wrote chapter XV Siamese Archaeology – A synoptical Sketch, pp 213-226. Michael Smithies, the editor of the second edition in 1988, reintroduced Gerini that 'Colonel Gerini was serving in the Royal Cadet School and was Vice-President of the Siam Society from its inception in 1904-1906 when he left the country. Col. Gerini was a formidable scholar, and his massive article in the second volume of the Journal in 1905 on the history of Phuket, one of the longest ever to appear in the eight-four years of the periodical (Journal of the Siam Society celebrating in 1988 its 84th anniversary - author), was considerable contribution to scholarship.' (p.ix)

 

 

1997-2006: Thai-Italian scholars Summary and Visitors' Guide to the Siam Pavilion and Show

           G.E. Gerini. M.R.A.S., Commissioner-General of H.M. the King of Siam to the Turin and Rome International Exhibitions, 1911, Descriptive Catalogue of the Siamese Section at the International Exhibition of Industry and Labour  held in Turin April 29-November 19, 1911 pp. xlix-l ; liv-lxiv

 

 

The Siamese Pavilion at Turin in International Exhibition, 1911

 

 

The Royal Siamese Commission for Foreign Exhibitions

 

H.M. King Vajiravudh- President

H.H. Prince Rajani - Vice-President

H.E. P'hya P'hip'hat Kosa - Member

A.H. Duke - Secretary General

alt

Committee of Management in Italy

 

Colonel G.E. Gerini -Commissioner General to H.M. the King of Siam

Arch. A Rigotti- Superintending Architect, Technical Director of the work of erection of the Pavilion

G. Vigna dal Ferro - Secretary

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plan_ pavilion.jpg - 115.74 Kb

 

 

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The Siam Pavilion: Front View from the opposite side of the River Po

 

G.E. Gerini and his General Remarks on the Architecture of the Siamese Pavilion:

 

The Pavilion is in that genuine Siamese style which still servives in temples and monuments of the past, more than in those which have to a large extent been modernized.

 

When viewed from the opposite bank of the River Po, whih its triple-storied polychrome roofs, and its taperng central spire gorgeously decked with golden mouldings, culminating in front of the green hill as a backgrond, it gives one the momentary illusion of actually finding himself on the shores of the Me-Nam, before one of those sumtupus buildings that embellish the Siamese capital. In fact, the Pavilion distinguishes itself entirely from the contiguous buildings by its characteristic lines, its slender and upshooting forms, and for the gorgeous character of its decorative details, which reveal immediately the secidedly Oriental origin of its architecture. This is of the type known in Siam by the name of prasad, which us inly met with in royal palaces and in the ancient Brahmanic shrines, whence it spread also to the Buddhist ones. The building is crucifrom on plan, and covers a total area (inclusing the front terraces) of more than 1,000 square metres. With teh two main arms fromed by the wing galleries stratching out on both sides, it extends along the right bank of the Po, on which it occupies a frontage of 65 metres. A triple orfer of terraces communicating through a double flight of rather steep steps, as ususal in Siam, and gradually leading down to the rive bank, forms its basement, The finely moulded railings of the terraces and stairs are supported by little piers, the intervals between which are occupied by tracery painted in malacchite green, thus imitating the perforated glazed tiles of the same tint used in Siam, This tracery, which is repeated in the loop windows in the projecting central part of the basement, together with the green of the tropical plants that adorn the terraces, beautifully sets off the glittering white of the walls.

 

. . .

 

 


 

 

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The Siam Pavilion: View taken from the wooden bridge across the river Po

 

Access may be hald to the Pavlion either by the foot-bridge crossing the Po just below the pavilion, or from the embarkmant alonng the side of the river, or again from the terrce which communicates with the contiguous pavilions rising on the same (right) bank. We will here start from the side of the foot-bridge, and exactly from the left gallery, marked A on the plan.

 


  

 

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Main Hall: Irrigation, Bullock carts, ploughs; Central case with masks and silversmith work; Produce from extensive cultivation, fishing

 

G.E. Gerini describes the Central Hall as follows:

 

The decoration of this is, as may be expected , more elaborate than elsewhere. The hall is unholstered in old-gold satinette. From a chakra or symblical wheel at the top of the lofty ceiling eight festoons of green foilage interspersed with multicoloured blossoms, hang in graceful curves towards the four corners of the hall, to which they are tied by ribbons in the national colours (white and red). In several ogival niches high up are placed golden images of Buddha in the various postures in which he is traditionally represented; while around the walls, instead of the simple chakra wheel, this emblem is noticed in combination with the  tri,  or trident of Siva, forming together the chakra-tri r chakr-tri, the ensign of the dynasty now reigning over Siam

 

On the wall facing the main entrance and on either side of the central niche, two royal Siamese flags are displayed with the royal coat of arms, consisting of a tri[artie shield surmounted by the  chakra wheel with the trident, and above this by way of crest, by the conical  Mongkut or royal crown; all this among two white c'hattra, or a symbolical sever-tiere umbrellas, on a dark-blue ground. A similar flag may be seen adorning the wall opposite and just above the principal entrance to the building.

 

The lofty niche of honour, in the centre of the wall facing the main entrance to the Pavilion, is encased all round by a gilt frame moulded after the Siamese style, as are all the other frames of the niche is draped in pink satin, the genethliacal colour of the deeply lamented King Chulalongkorn, whose life size photo hangs in a frame, surrounded by festoons and garlands as a dutiful homage and reverent tribute to the memory of him under whose auspices this Show was decided upon and the preparations began, and of which his premature demise prevented him seeing the completion.

 

Below the life-size portraits of his son and successor Vajiravudh the present King, and of the Queen-Mother Sawabha, which at the same time form part of the photographic show. The lower part of this niche is profusely decorated with beautiful ferns and ornamental exotic plants. On the left side of the same niche, and in a semicircular wall-case, are displayed on a pedestal, in diverging directions all round from a common centre, a number of feather fans of the most varied shapes and colours, mostly provided with long handles, as employed in Siam.

 

. . .

 

Having gone all round this hall, it beloves one now to pause a little in front of the magnificent central show-case, which attracts the visitor's attention from the very outset. It is in genuine Siamese style, as may easily be inferred from its square form, slightly tapering towards the summit (so that the corners instead of being plumb are somewhat inclined inwards), from its peculiar gilt mouldings, and from the gilt pyramidal spire that surmounts it, culiminating in a slender terminal rising almost as high as the ceiling. Internally it is occupied by several tiers of shelves arranged in pyramidal form, and covered with pink and dark blue satin, on which the exhibits are displayed. On the upper tiers, glittering in their gorgeous gilding and studded with imitation jewellery, are nine theatrical masks such as are worn by Siamese actors in a scenic adaptations of the Ramayana, the well-known Indian epic, which supplies so much material to Far-Eastern nations, and is the main source of inspiration to their bards.

 

On the lower platform of the same case are arrayed specimens of Siamese silver plate and other fine metal-work, which testify  to the skill of the artisansin chasing and enamelling. It will be noticed that most of these pieces of art in repousse, whether bowls, goblets, or trays, embody ornamental motives drawn from the lotus pattern and Siamese mythological subjects. One may now pass into the right-hand hall marked B on the plan.

 

. . .

 

From Right-hand side Hall:

Now let us pass on to the show-case in the wall separating this from the Central hall

 

 


 

 

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Left-hand side Hall: Educational exhibits

 

Hall A (Left-hand side) as described by G.E. Gerini is as follows :

 

The walls of this hall are upholstered in dark-green satinette, whilst the ceiling is enriched with polychromic arabesques and gildings in genuine Siamese style. In the square niche above the entrance is displayed the national Siamese flag; higher up on the walls mats of dainty Siamese designs are hung, some in well-blended tint and shades, others with figures of animals (tigers, crocodiles, peacocks), and in the inervals between the loty windows white and gold indented disc catch the view, representing the chakra of Visnu, an emblem of the solar orb revolving in perpetual succession, and therefore a symbol of dominion and universal sovereignty, ensign of the monarchs. In Buddhism it moreover typifies the Dharmachakra,  wheel of the Dharma," or Law (of cause and effect), that the Great Master metaphorically set in motion and sent revolving about the world, through the proclamation of his doctrines.

 

This hall is mainly devoted to the show of Siamese Education Department, primary and middle schools for boys and girls. In the double row show-cases occupying the centre of the hall and surrounted by a long gilt frame, are displayed programmes, time-tables, textbooks, and girls' schoolwork, which fill also the two wall-cases on either side of the entrance. Around the walls are hung up the frame drawings by the middle-school boys, which are inspired by national ornamentation.

 

  


 

  

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Left hand side hall: Railways; Silk spinning and weaving; Education

 

G.E. Gerini continues :

 

Besides this, on the left-hand wall hangs a large teakwood frame, enriched with beautiful Siamese carvings, containing a series a photographs of the Siamese State Railways. The pictures show the lines, stations, irons and concrete bridges and landscape views of several parts of the counry through which the locomotive now rushes triumphantly. On the table beneath lies open to inspection he printed report on the railways traffic in Siam for 1910. 

 

In the near corner of the hall a native lom for silk-weaving is mounted ready for work. It is rosewood of the traditional type obtaining in the country, and cannot fail to arouse curiosity and interest. The wall-case near by contains a collection of spinning and weaving gear, and a series of photos of the Royal Agricultural College and sericulture schools in Siam.

 

. . .

 

On the other show-case along the wall on the right are disposed samples of the cottons cultivated in Siam, the tree-cotton (kapok) included, of native cotton fabrics, and of various textile fibers, such as ramie, Siamese hemp (which differs much from ours), and interesting fiber of wild plaintain.

 

The next show-case contains specimens of the curious native bark paper, both white and black, in plain sheets and folded screen-like into blank books.

 

In the nearest corner is a bamboo trestle or towel-horse, of which more examples will be found in the central hall.

 

While wending our steps towards the central hall we notice on the side of the entrance a large frame with photos of the brisk and handsome Siamese pony. The upper picture represents the reigning King of Siam on horseback, and that on the left one of his brother Prince Nakhon-chaisri, actual Minister of War also on horseback. Another photo shows a racer with his jockey on the race-course at Bangkok.

 

On the opposite side of the same entrance to the central hall hang other drawings by the schoolboys. The visitor now finds himself in the central hall.

 

  


  

 

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Right-hand side hall: Tabacco; from Ferro's Siamese Sketches; Bangkok Newspapers; Oil, Rubber, Soap, Dycs, etc.; Public Work; Silk Fabrics

 

 

Passing now to the corresponding wall-case on the other side of the ahll, one notices on its upper shelves, in glass vases, numerous specimens of Siamese tobacco, both cut and rolled up into cigars and cigarettes. Among these dainty and curious, will be found those wrapped in the rosy petals of the royal lotus.

 

Other classes of this group are represented in the lower part of the same cae of the specimens of wod oils; of soaps of local manufacture; of dyeing substances, among which the one employed to dye black deserves special attention; of tanning materials; of rubber and resins, whereof the black lacquer or vanish is highly interesting; and of perfumery oils and resins, among which the Siamese Benzoin, the best in the world, hold the first place. No one, whether merchant or layman, can miss the opportunity, not only of glancing at but gaining a better acquaintance with, these admirable and valuable substances peculiar to Siam, which fully deserve to be better known, studies, and experienced upon in other countries.

 

Turning now towards the left one will scarcely fail to pause before the splendid collection of sketches and paintings of Siamese types and landscapes displayed here on the wall. These will post us up better than any literary description, howeverable, of the charactristics of Siamese life and surroundings.

 

On a long table beneath are displayed sample copies of newspapers and other peiodical publications, which give one an idea of the output of the local press

 

 


  

 

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 Right-hand side hall: Produce from extensive cultivation; Forest produce; Fishing implements ; Public works; silk Fabrics

 

Hall B (right-hand side):

 

This hall is upholstered similarly to Hall A, and accordingly one notices high up on the wallls the same emblems, flags, and figured mats, and below these as almost similar disposition of show-caes. But the character of the exhibits is totally different, as this section is, with afew exceptions, mainly devoted to industial and Siamese land products. If the first hall is dedicated principally to education, and the central one to fine arts, this one is essentially of a commercial character. Here men of business will be especially interested, although attractions fro the fair sex and gourmets are not wanting, fro one finds displayed the chief productions of Siam, of its fields and woods, of its seas and rivers.

 

Turning immediately to the right, one finds himself in front of the first wall-case, occupying a position communcating with the Central Hall. On the upper selves are arrayed in glass vases the products of extensive cultvation. Among these paddy, of which many varieties are exhibited, naturally holds the first place, followed by samples oof other cereals, oilseeds, etc. The cllection is surmounted by a fairly large cocoanut

 

The lower shelves are occupied by numerous models of Siamese fishing implements, all interesting; but the most striking is the indenious, not to say magical, 'phantom canoe,' in which the fish spontneously jump into captivity.

 

Proceeding further one sees a collection of knives and other cutting utensils used by Siamese peasants. Not a little curious will appear the jungle-swords and knives, and also the shapes of some of these implements, strange o us, yet in most instances of neat finish.

 

Near by on the walls are photogravure reproductions of maps executed in Siam by the Survey epartment; in other parts of the hall more will be found, as well as interesting specimens of old native maps.

 

And so we reach a gigantic show-case which occupies the middle part of the right-hand wall and contains the forestal exhibits. Here are arrayed specimens of the principal woods for cabinet-work and building urposes that come from the frests of Siam. The trunk of many a tree is presented to viw cut lengthwise and across, so as to show the features and arrangement of the grain and fibres or veins. Besides, the familiar teak, of which Siam possesses the largest and best forests in the world, other excellent woods will attract attention, some of which are admirably suited for fine cabinetwork, and n less beautiful than the most famous of other countries. On the upper shelf one may see in glass vases samples of other frest produce, such as wax, rubber, oleoresins, and stick-lac, besides a coloured drawing of the insect, magnified, which produces lac in Siam. Finally, higher up are hung photos showing views of forest-works, among which is as indispensable in the forests of Siam as the ox and buffalo are in the fields.

 

  


 

  

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 Right-hand side hall : 

 

Tabacco extractive industries 

 

Mining  

 

The left-hand wall- case is, on the other hand, wholly devoted to the mineral show. Besides samples of the principal minerals of Siam (among which tin holds the first place in point of plentifulness, as the country possesses extrememy rich alluvial beds of tin-ore) one sees also in glass tubes specimens of its gems (rubies, sappires, and spinels); whilst in a series of photos views are shown of important mining works and machinery.

 

 

Irrigation bullock carts, ploughs

 

Now let us pass on to the show-case in the wall separating this from the Central hall. In the upper part of the case we find a series of photos representing some of the most important works recently completed in Siam with a view to facilitate internal navigation. On the shelf below three models of native boats are on view. Finally, lower down tiny models of Siamese bullock and bufflao carts and of Siamese ploughs ad harrows catch the eyes. It will be noticed that in genuine lcal types of boats and carts no metal is used, nor even in the ploughs, with the solo exception of the ploughsharew, which is made of iron.

 

 


 

  

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Central Hall

 

Wickerwork and Knick-knackery; Silk Spinning

 

The corresponding show-case on the right-hand side of the niche is occupied by a large assortment of straw, wicker, and basket-work, and of knick-knackery. The wicker specimens range from baskets and trays to cigarette-cases and straw hats; while the knick-knackery comprises among other things a small screen inlaid in mother-of-pearl, with the panel ornamented after the Siamese style in lacquer and gold.

 

Metallized photoraphic repreductions of masterpieces in Siamese cabinet-work, ornamented in lacquer and gold, are on view in several frames about the pilasters of the central hall, on the two of which (near the show-cases of the sericulture) hang also two small glass cases containing specimens of cocoons, twisted silk, organzines, and silk fabrics.

 

 


 

 

 

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Left-hand side hall

 

Education : embroidery, hand-painting on silk, artficial flowers

 

Sericulture:  

The corresponding wall-case towards the right-hand wall is instead occupied by the show of sericulture, and in it may be observed specimens of silkworms, cocoons, indigenous mulberry leaves of several varieties, and implements for silkworm rearing

 

  


  

 

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Central hall 

Fans :                                                                                               

 

On the left side of the same niche, and in a semicircular wall-case, are displayed on a pedestal, in diverging directions all round from a common centre, a number of feather fans of the most varied shapes and colours, mostly provided with long handles, as employed in Siam.

 


 

  

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Right-hand side hall                                                                                  

 

Food industries and products --- Drugs, spices, coffee, etc.

 

The series of drugs and conditions continues in the wall case near by, where one may notice samples of pepper, coffee, nutmeg, and cardmom. The upper shelves are occupied by samples of cleansed and milled rice and rice-meal as a complement to the show of food-stuffs and industries relating thereto.

 

Fishing implements:

 

The lower shelves are occupied by numerous models of Siamese fishing implements, all interesting; but the most striking is the indenious, not to say magical, 'phantom canoe,' in which the fish spontneously jump into captivity.

 


 

  

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Right-hand side hall: Essences and extraxts; Sticklac from various provinces

 

Proceeding further one comes to a small stand in front of which are ranged three little cases with glass covers, replete with specimens of stick-lac, coming from the forests of various provinces of Siam. Right against the wall stand two glass case containing numerous bottles, some filled with aromatic essences and extracts for confectionery and aerated water manufactures, and the others with colouring extracts for confectionery, derived from the local flora.

 

. . .

  

 


 

Here the tour around the Show ends; but for those who have leisure it is worth to tarry a few minutes longer and go out on the terrace to give a look at the porch and main entrance to the Pavilion; to view the external decorations, especialli on the gables; and to examine the curious little gilt bells hanging from the eves, which, swainging in the breeze emit a sound so sweet and Po-etic (just as befits the Po banks) no less worth seeing are the characteristic flagstaffs already described, and finally, the extra beautiful view of the river and of the whole Exhibition that can be enjoyed from that lofty position.

 

Even a flying visit to the lower terrace will not prove devoid of interest, descending the steep staircase that in true native style leads down to it. Thence, by an easier flight of steps, one may go down to the very green bank of fair Eridanus, no less fair, no less clad in sunlight and verdure in this summer season, than the far-away Me -Nam where the prototypes of the Siamese Pavilion proudly rear their golden spires.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             G.E. Gerini