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Honoring Sakon Nakhon’s 1st Governor (Wan Chao Khun Chan)

On May 21st, Sakon Nakhon celebrated “Wan Chao Khun Chan” (วันเจ้าคุณจันต์), which honors the life of Phraya Prachanprathet Thani, the first governor of Sakon Nakhon province. Despite overcast skies and occasional drizzle, the event was well-attended by government officials from throughout the province, as well as descendants of the legendary governor, who played a pivotal role in the history of Sakon Nakhon.

Phraya Prachanprathet Thani (พระยาประจันตประเทศธานี) or Chao Khun Chan (เจ้าคุณจันต์) was born in 1839 with the given name Thao Ngon Khan (ท้าวโง่นคำ). He grew up in the That Choeng Chum Subdistrict (ตำบลธาตุเชิงชุม) of Sakon Nakhon, which is the location of the province’s most sacred temple, Wat Phra That Choeng Chum Worawihan.

Thao Ngon Khan studied hard as a student, and became well read in both the Thai and Lao languages. Later, as an army commander, he was recognized for his heroism, especially in fighting the “Haw” (ฮ่อ), who were militaristic refugee gangs from China that invaded parts of Tonkin (North Vietnam), Laos, and Siam from 1865–1890.

Sakon Nakhon City Gate
The Wan Chao Khun Chan Ceremonies were held beside the Sakon Nakhon City Gate landmark at 9am on May 21st.

Statue Phraya Prachanprathet Thani
Bronze Statue of Phraya Prachanprathet Thani, the First Governor of Sakon Nakhon Province

In 1887 King Chulalongkorn appointed Thao Ngon Khan as the governor of Sakon Nakhon city, awarding him the title “Prachanprathet Thani” (which means leader of a border region). At that time, the city was named Sakon Tawapi (สกลทวาปี). He officially changed the name to Sakon Nakhon shortly after becoming the city’s leader.

Phraya Prachanprathet Thani didn’t become Sakon Nakhon’s first Provincial Governor or “Chao Meuang” (เจ้าเมือง) until 1901, when His Majesty established the municipality administration system.

As Sakon Nakhon’s first governor, he helped grow the city and province into a thriving region, while also generously helping neighboring communities when in distress. A devout Buddhist, he established a number of Sakon Nakhon temples, including the Royal Temple Wat Chaeng Saeng Arun, Wat Si Chomphu, Wat Sri Pon Mueang, and many others.

Thailand Buddhist Blessing Ceremony
Sakon Nakhon government officials and family descendants make merit in honor of the 1st governor.

In Thailand, a feast table of food and drink is often laid out when honoring the spirits of ancestors.

He was later given the royal surname Phrom Sakha Na Sakon Nakhon (พรหมสาขา ณ สกลนคร), which is continued to be used by his descendants today. He ultimately served 37 years as the leader of Sakon Nakhon City and the governor of Sakon Nakhon province, until his death in 1923 at the age of 85.

The reason he goes by the abbreviated name Chao Khun Chan — more closely pronounced “jâo khun jun” (เจ้าคุณจันต์) — is that “Chao Khun” is an honorific given to someone who has been given a royal “Phraya” surname and “Chan” (จันต์) refers to the family dynasty that his father descended from.

Each year on “Chao Khun Chan Day” (วันเจ้าคุณจันต์), Sakon Nakhon remembers the death of Phraya Prachanprathet Thani with blessing ceremonies conducted by a retinue of Buddhist monks. The ceremonies are attended by government officials, family descendants, and local residents. This year marked the 101st anniversary of the revered governor’s death.

Dozens of beautiful wreaths were offered in honor of Phraya Prachanprathet Thani (พระยาประจันตประเทศธานี).

David Alan