| Phuket Island has a long
recorderd history, and remains dating back to A.D. 1025 indicate that the
island's present day name derives in meaning from the Tamil manikram, or
crystal mountain. |
most of history, however, it was known as Junk
Ceylon, which, with variations, is the name found on old maps.
The name is thought to have its roots in Ptolemy's Geographia, written by
the Alexandrian geographer in the
Third Century A.D. He mentioned that
in making a trip from Souwannapum to the Malay
Peninsula it was neccesary to pass the cape of Jang Si Lang.
the Sukothai Period Phuket was associated
with Takua Pa in what is now Phang-nga Province, another
area with vast tin reserves. The Dutch
established a trading post during the Ayuthaya Period in
the 16th Cent. The island's northern and central regions then
were governed by the Thais, and the southern and western parts were
given over to the tin trade, a concession in the hands of foreigners.
|| Phuket was a
way station on the route
between India and China where seafarers stopped to
shelter. The island appears to have been
part of the Shivite empire (called in
Thai the Tam Porn Ling) that established itself on
the Malay Peninsula during the first
Millenium A.D. Later, as Muang Takua-Talang, it was
part of the Srivichai and
Siri Tahm empires. Governed as the
eleventh in a constellation of twelve cities,
Phuket's emblem, by which it was known to others in those largely
pre-literate times, was the dog.
After Ayuthaya was
sacked by the Burmese in 1767 there was a short interregnum in Thailand,
ended by King Taksin, who drove
out the Burmese and re-unified the country. The
Burmese, however, were anxious to
return to the offensive. They outfitted
a fleet to raid the southern
provinces, and carry off the populations to slavery in Burma.
This led to
Phuket's most memorable hitoric event. A passing sea captain,
Francis Light, sent word that the Burmese were en route
to attack. Forces in Phuket were assembled led by the two heroines,
Kunying Jan, wife of Phuket's recently deceased governer, and her sister
Mook, After a month's siege the Burmese were forced to
depart on 13 March, 1785. Kunying Jan and her sister were credited with
the successful defense.
recognition King Rama I bestowed upon Kunying Jan the honorific Thao
Thep Kasatri, a title of nobility usually reserved for
royalty, by which she is known today. Her sister became Thao Sri Sunthon.
During the Nineteenth Century Chinese
immigrants arrived in such numbers to work
for the tin mines that the ethnic character of the
island's interior became predominantly Chinese, while the coastal
settlements remained populated chiefly by Muslim fishermen.
In Rama V's reign,
Phuket became the administrative center of a group of tin mining provinces
called Monton Phuket, and in 1933, with the change
in government from absolute monarchy to a parliamentary system, the island
was established as a province by itself.