When did Siam become Thailand?

By - herve
25.06.20 03:10 AM

The story behind the country’s historical name change.

25th June 2020

The country currently known as Thailand was for most of its history called Siam.

Read on to dig deeper into Thailand’s past with us and discover how Siam is still very much embedded in today’s society. 

Where does Siam originate from?

Here lies a longstanding mystery in the country’s origin. No one can quite pinpoint what it was exactly that bestowed the nation with the name Siam. Even the Thais at the time always designated their country as “Meuang Thai” which translates to “land of the Thai”. Only foreigners had adopted the name Siam.

Map of Siam 1686

Many say that the name Siam dates back to the Europeans’ first arrival in the country in 1511. 

But the historical evidence seems to suggest that the appellation takes us back as far as the eleventh century, when it was used in Cham engravings.

Vintage advertisements from the 50's
1949 Stamp with portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

No matter its origin, it was clear that by the nineteenth century this name was adopted far and wide both within the country and beyond its borders. Correspondence between King Mongkut (Rama IV) and foreign diplomates at the time that was found are clearly signed by him as “Rex Siamensium”.

When did Siam become Thailand?

The Thailand Flag has changed a bit over the past 200 years or so.

The name of the country was changed from Siam to Thailand on 24th June 1939.

It is interesting to note that the current design of the Thai flag was revealed much earlier back in 1917.

Siam’s place in the modern world

Despite the fact that the name Siam does not appear on the world’s atlas it still holds a very important place in Thailand’s culture and society in our present day. 

A number of businesses and locations use Siam in their name, including some of Bangkok’s most popular shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Siam Square.
Rue de Siam is the main arterial street of Brest in France.

In 1742, the King of Siam sent three ambassadors to France.
They arrived in the port of Brest, the French were so amazed that they renamed one of the city street "Rue de Siam" (or Siam Street).

deSIAM is derived from Siam

Our very own brand deSIAM was also inspired by the name Siam. Symbolic not only of the country’s history and political background, but its culture and in particular its cuisine. 

Our recipes transport you back to a time when Thailand was still known as Siam, to when they were first being invented.

deSIAM was also inspired by the name Siam

Despite its nationalist background, Thailand’s culture is lined with inspirations from its neighbouring countries and cultures. Without them, the country’s cultural landscape would no doubt look very different to how it is presently. 

It does not look like the name would be changed back any time soon, but regardless of that, its memory lives on through a number of outlets and we are honoured to carry on its legacy through our cooking. 

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