Last week I reported on visiting and photographing many temples in Hatyai during my unexpectedly long stay in the area. On the first of these trips I heard from a friend about a large museum that he had visited in Hatyai, but unfortunately he didn’t know where it was, or even what its name was.
As I was planning the trips I kept this bit of information in mind but it was only after 3 weeks that I came across the first hint of the place, which seems to be Hatyai’s best kept secret! So I planned to visit it on the next trip.
When we got there we found one of the largest collections of Buddhist-themed materials I have seen in one place, be it museum or collection. The Great Treasure of the Three Kingdoms Centre is spread out over around one acre of land. The Three Kingdoms referred to in its title are China, Thailand and Cambodia.
There are a number of sections, one is open plan in around four open-air rooms; the main centre is inside a large wharehouse-style hanger, and consists of a huge area, with numerous rooms, and a large central area, which is divided thematically. There are also a pair of very large Nāgas set in an open space behind the hanger.
The exhibits themselves range from statues, large and small; paintings, old and new; amulets and coins by the thousands; jewellery, furniture and other household items, like porcelain plates and teapots, and also clocks by the score. The collection is the work of the Chinese-Thai Phuc Tien family, who are well-known in Hatyai.
I visited the collection on two occasions, and took many hundreds of photographs while I was there. Some of the exhibits, however, including the whole of the Cambodian collection, are behind glass, which does not lend itself to photography, so it is not represented in this collection of photographs.
I have divided the photographs into two sections, one focusing on the Chinese collection, and the other on the Theravāda collection. The collection is far larger than what I have photographed, and, if you go, it is best to put aside at least a few hours to walk round and see the works on display. Even better if you can go more than once, as I did.