January 17, 2009

291206 Wat Mai - monkeys & demons

After covering the whole ceiling with stencils of scenes from the life story of Gautama Buddha, & filling the entire front wall with gilded stucco depicting the Vessantara jataka, the artists who decorated the front verandah still managed to squeeze in the epic tale of Pha Lak Pha Ram (aka. Ramakien or Ramayana) - onto the horizontal beams above...

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...with every available bit of surface area so ornately embellished, the cat couldn't help but take a quick look down at its feet to check if it were stepping on even more artwork...

The demon king Ravana (Totsakan) fights Vali (upper left), the monkey king of Kishkindha, while wielding a whole array of weapons & holding onto Mandodari (Nang Mando) with his 20 arms:


Vali defeated Ravana & took Mandodari away. Ravana's teacher later snatched her back, but she was pregnant with Vali's child, who would be born as the monkey warrior prince, Anggada (Ongkot). A vengeful Ravana turned himself into a giant crab (left) to kill Anggada while he was bathing, but Vali (right) captured him:


Crabs are decapods, but the artist has given Ravana 14 legs in addition to two pincers, perhaps a reflection of his extra arms when in demon form?

Mandodari later bore Ravana a son, the demon prince Indrajit (meaning Indra's victor). He acquired this name after defeating the god Indra, shown here riding his elephant mount Erawan:


Indrajit (left) attacking Indra - above photo is of the section to the immediate left of this one:


Mandodari also bore Ravana a daughter, Sita (Nang Sida). Ravana got rid of the baby Sita in the belief that she would cause the destruction of the demons, but would later fall in love with the adult Sita & kidnap her from Rama (Pha Ram), the prince who had won her hand in marriage.

Hanuman (left), the leader of the monkeys, offers his services to Rama (second from left), after returning Lakshmana (Pha Lak, third from left) the bow that it had snatched away:


Hanuman & Anggada would help Rama search for Sita & battle Ravana to rescue her.

This beam has been damaged by rain seeping through the roof, like what has happened to ceiling stencils - the large bird (left) is either Sadayu or its brother, Sampati:


Sadayu tried in vain to rescue Sita from Ravana, & later informed Rama of her capture, while Sampati helped direct Hanuman & the monkey army to the kingdom of Langka, where Sita was being held. On their way to Langka, the monkey army had to cross a river. Hanuman thus ordered the monkeys to carry rocks over to construct a causeway:


The cat gave up trying to take clear photos of all the beams - it is simply too short, & had only 3X optical zoom & no tripod. During its 2008 visit, it managed to take a few more before it was called over to join in the morning chanting & offering of breakfast to the monks of Wat Mai to mark Boun Ok Phansa.

For other episodes of the story including the ending where Ravana is killed, see here & here.

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