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King Rama III Recognized as the Father of Thai Traditional Medicine

18 June 2015

The Cabinet has approved the presentation of the title of the "Father of Thai Traditional Medicine to King Rama III. It has also designated 29 October each year National Thai Traditional Medicine Wisdom Day.
The decision was made during the Cabinet meeting on 16 June 2015, when the Ministry of Public Health presented a report, prepared by the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.
The report said that Thai traditional medicine wisdom and Thai herbs have existed for more than 1,000 years now. They have been passed on from generation to generation and have been used by people of all social strata. Today, Thai traditional medicine and herbs have become more popular and better known in the world community.
However, there is a need to develop an effective mechanism and measures for conservation management and protection, so that Thai traditional medicine will be further developed on a sustainable basis.
For this reason, the Government deems it appropriate to recognize National Thai Traditional Medicine Wisdom Day, as it has done with other significant days, such as National Science Day, National Rice and Farmers Day, National Fisheries Day, and National Thai Language Day.
King Rama III (1824-1851) is remembered as one of the most energetic builders of monasteries in Thai history. Thai traditional massage has always been synonymous with "Wat Po, or Wat Phra Chetuphon, popularly known among foreigners as the "Temple of the Reclining Buddha." In 1830, the temple underwent a major renovation at the royal command of King Rama III, who intended to turn this temple into a major source of knowledge for all people, regardless of their social status.
King Rama III also ordered the collection of knowledge from wise men and the collection of arts and sciences on various subjects, such as traditional medicine, archeology, literature, and poetry. Information on these subjects was inscribed on thousands of stone tablets on the walls and columns of cloisters around the temple.
Soon Wat Pho became the first "open university" in Thailand, and it is now recognized as a center for traditional Thai massage, where people can learn techniques of various natural remedies for health. Since the inscriptions at Wat Pho contain universal knowledge, which is useful not only to Thailand but also to the world at large, they are considered invaluable treasures that must be preserved for humankind.
Aware of the outstanding universal value of these inscriptions, UNESCO registered the epigraphic archives of Wat Pho as a "Memory of the World on 27 May 2011. The Government deems it appropriate to present the title of the Father of Thai Traditional Medicine to King Rama III, a monarch who contributed greatly to traditional medicine.
Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister
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