December 14, 2008

281206 Wat Xieng Thong - more chariot hall

Elaborate mosaic work by Thit Bounthan on the rear wall within the chariot hall - boats with naga head-shaped prows on the river:


Like traditional Thai art, everything is in 2D & there is no perspective. People, animals, etc in the foreground & background can be of the same size, while more important subjects are enlarged e.g. deities triple the size of humans, & humans taller than bamboo groves. Likewise for the gold stencilled designs decorating the sim. A whole collection of Buddha statues stands at the base of the rear wall, together with pieces of wood that have multiple rows of miniature Buddhas carved on them:


Falling out of line:


All the standing Buddha images have both arms straight down by their sides with palms facing inwards & fingers pointing down in the 'calling for rain' (ຣຽກຟົນ hiak fon aka. พระปางขอฝน phra bpaang khor fon) pose...


...except for this one with both arms raised & palms facing outwards in the 'calming the ocean' (พระปางห้ามสมุทธ phra bpaang haam samut) pose:


The 'calling for rain' pose is supposedly one of the two poses unique to Lao Buddhist art, but such Buddha statues can also be found in parts of north Thailand bordering Laos (e.g. Wat Pa Sak in Chiang Saen, Chiangrai province bordering Bokeo, & Wat Bun Yeun in Wiang Sa, Nan province bordering Sayabouly). A reminder of how the boundaries between modern day Thailand & Laos have shifted about since the days of the ancient Million Ricefields (Lanna) & Million Elephants (Lane Xang) kingdoms?

The 'calming the ocean' pose refers to an event in Buddha's life where he convinced three fire-worshipping ascetic brothers (Uruvela, Nadi & Gaya Kassapa) that they were not truly enlightened as they believed themselves to be. During his stay with the eldest brother in Bodhgaya, he was given a hut beside the swelling Neranjara river, but escaped from flooding by taming the rising waters.

Every individual face is different:


Whispering Buddha:


No comments: