Old medical scripts to be translated

Old medical scripts to be translated

Royal foundation donates formulas

AYUTTHAYA: His Royal Highness Admiral Prince Abhakara of Chumphon’s Family Foundation has given traditional Thai medicine formulas — rediscovered by Admiral Prince Abhakara of Chumphon, a son of King Rama V — to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

The department will translate the ancient language used in the formulas to the current Thai version so the public can use it for health promotion, said Dr Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

The formulas — written on a 52-page traditional palm-leaf manuscript — were recently handed to the department in a ritual ceremony held at Prasat Nakhon Luang in Ayutthaya. Prasat Nakhon Luang was built as a palace by King Prasat Thong in the Ayutthaya Kingdom over 300 years ago, he said.

Prasat Nakhon Luang was chosen for the ceremony as traditional Thai medicine formulas are believed to have been originally documented during the reign of King Prasat Thong. The formulas were rediscovered by the prince and translated into the Thai language used in the period of King Rama V about 150 years ago, he said.

The chairwoman of the Abhakara Foundation, MR Jiyakorn Abhakara Sesavej, said the manuscripts contain 67 formulas that offer medical treatments.

“It is useless if these traditional Thai medicines are kept by the foundation, so we decided to give them to the department for the public’s benefit. We hope it will bring good benefits to our country,” she said.

She said the foundation had preserved 15 old manuscripts written by Admiral Prince Abhakara of Chumphon that are related to traditional medical treatments and chanting. Last year, the foundation gave 92 traditional medical treatment formulas to the Department of Fine Arts to translate into the current Thai language. These have now been published for public use to relieve many ailments, such as stomach aches and diarrhoea.

She further noted that the foundation is planning to publish a book of King Prasat Thong’s medicine formulas next year to mark the centennial of the death of the Admiral Prince Abhakara of Chumphon on May 19, 2023.

Dr Thongchai, the department’s chief, said the department would set up a working group consisting of ancient language experts from the Department of Fine Arts, the department’s experts, representatives from the foundation and lawyers to decypher the ancient language and rewrite it into the current Thai style.

He added that those old formulas would be later added to the nation’s list of traditional Thai medicine.

“The department has to protect and preserve Thai wisdom on traditional medicine. All experts from various fields will work together to make it complete. The formulas will be a national treasure from generation to generation,” Dr Thongchai said.

He said the department also receives traditional medicine from the public. The department has so far gathered 48,519 formulas, of which 324 were registered on the nation’s traditional Thai medicine list to treat 15 diseases in hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, Pimpan Paiboonwangcharoen, an ancient dialect expert from the Department of Fine Arts, said she found that some alphabet characters, including the name of Thai herbs, were widely used in the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which is evidence that the medical textbook may have originated from the Ayutthaya period.

However, the version kept by the foundation is likely to be a copy of the original version, which is still unknown, judging by the language used during the Rattanakosin period.

Ms Pimpan said the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine would decypher the text first. Experts from the Department of Fine Arts would later verify its accuracy.