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Following the Footsteps of Wolfgang Franke Through Graveyards and Temples in Thailand

The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage proudly presents “Perspectives on China’s Cultural Heritage,” a new lecture series in 2023. The subjects will range from art to history, religions, beliefs, and cultural exchanges. This series will begin with double lectures by four international scholars. More lectures on Sinology will be conducted both on-site and online.

Part I: Chinese Graveyards in Thailand by Yoann Goudin and Oliver Streiter

Wolfgang Franke (1912-2007) was a German sinologist and specialist in the Ming Dynasty. Son of Otto Franke, the founder of Sinology in German, he had spent much of his early life in China, dwelling in archives and libraries, while the world around him experienced war and revolution. Back in Germany after the Chinese Civil War, he took over the professorship of his father at the University of Hamburg. After his retirement in 1977, he moved to Malaysia and intensified his work on large-scale photographic documentation of Chinese inscriptions in Southeast Asia. Given the sheer dimensions of the endeavour, Franke assembled a team of renowned scholars such as Chen Tieh Fan, Claudine Salmon, Anthony Siu, and Porpan Juntaronanont. Twenty-one years later, this collaborative effort culminated in the publication of a monumental documentation of Chinese inscriptions in Thailand in 1998.

In 2007, Yoann Goudin and Oliver Streiter started the project Thakbong, which aims at the documentation of inscriptions on Taiwan, a project that extended its scope soon to include epigraphic inscriptions in Penghu, Jinmen, Fujian, Wenzhou, Okinawa, and Hong Kong. In 2018, the project team set out for the first time to retrace Wolfgang Franke and to re-document sites: 2018 Malaysia, 2019 Thailand, and resuming after COVID-19, again in Thailand in 2023. This multi-faceted research into Franke’s documentation of the Chinese cultural heritage in Thailand and “Chineseness” in Thailand shows early tendencies and preliminary insights.

In Part I, Yoann Goudin and Oliver Streiter will report on their documentation of burial sites, burial practices, tombs, and funerary inscriptions in Thailand.

Part II: 3D Modelling of Temples in Bangkok by Paul McBain and Marcus Bingenheimer

Part II, Paul McBain (Thammasat University) and Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University) will report on their efforts to document shrines and temples in Bangkok in the context of digital heritage preservation and follow up on Franke’s work on temples.

The purpose of this redocumentation effort is interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional. First and for all, they try to improve, complete, and enrich the documentation created by Franke. New digital media, digital publication techniques, and almost unlimited storage space promise to enhance the documentation of sites and objects while carrying over the original black-and-white photography as historic documents into a new documentation space. However, digital photography, videos, drone imagery, satellite images, panoramic images, 3D modelling, and lidar techniques, building on a variety of open and closed, free and commercial standards create a jungle of personal preferences, advantages, limitations, and incompatibilities, which seem to torpedo a needed concerted documentation effort.

In Part II, Paul McBain and Marcus Bingenheimer will relate their attempts to produce 3D models of temples, their experiences with panorama photography, and present a follow-up study of Franke. They have revisited nine of the temples that Franke had visited in the 1970s and 80s and assessed the state of the epigraphic objects that he documented. What has vanished, what has changed, and what has been added?


About the speaker

Yoann Goudin completed a MA in Taiwanese Literature at the National Chengkung University and a PhD in language science at the “Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales” in Paris. He is currently an invited researcher at the “Research Center for Asia-Pacific Languages and Cultures” at National University of Kaohsiung. In didactics, his research is on multimodality and plurilingualism. He taught Oriental languages in Paris, Grenoble, and Lyon, as well as French, linguistics, anthropology, and research methodology in social sciences in Xiamen.

Oliver Streiter is Associate Professor at Kaohsiung National University. He studied psychology at Utrecht, psycholinguistics at the EHESS in Paris, computational linguistics at the University Paris VII, Jussieu, and the history of linguistics at the University of Palermo. He completed a PhD at Saarland University in translation science with a focus on machine translation and computational linguistics. He started the Thakbong project with Yoann Goudin in 2007. (

Dr Paul Lewis McBain is currently a lecturer at Pridi Banomyong International College at Thammasat University in Bangkok. He received his graduate education from the Universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania and his past research has largely been on Buddhism and Thai literature. His work on digitising important temple murals, particularly of the 3rd and 4th reigns, works together with his interest in Siam’s complicated transition to modernity.

Marcus Bingenheimer is Associate Professor of Religion at Temple University. He taught Buddhism and Digital Humanities in Taiwan and held visiting positions at universities in Korea, Japan, France, Thailand, and Singapore. Since 2001, he has supervised numerous projects concerning the digitisation of Buddhist culture. His main research interests are Buddhist history and historiography, early sūtra literature, and how to apply computational approaches to research in the Humanities. He has written and edited a handful of books and some sixty articles (


Thursday, 1 June 2023 at 18:30-20:00


Lecture Room, 4/Floor, The Siam Society


Members and Students — Free of charge
Non-Members — THB 200

For more information, please contact

To book your place, please contact Khun Pinthip at 02 661 6470-3 ext 203 or

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