Bangkok: What a Wat    

Hand of Buddha in Wat Bowan

We can't blame jet lag so I think I'll blame the warm thickness of the air. The tropical lethargy. The last time I was in Bangkok I thought it was crazy and busy. Now it seems so calm.

Wat Bowan Niwetwihar was the first wat we visited this trip. The building soared upwards with tall columns. The interior walls were dark but covered with scenes of Thai life. Though perhaps they told stories. Little touches of gold added enticing bits of light. The scenes had forests and marine scenes with tall ships.

The paintings struck me as having similarities with American early colonial paintings-- the dark colors, tall ships, buildings with a naïve sense of perspective.

Painting in Wat Bowan
The ceiling was deep red with gold floral star patterns. The central altar portion of the wat was occupied by 2 huge gold Buddhas along with many smaller statues in front. The altar area was decorated with white and pink lotuses and other yellow flowers. The doors were leaf like filigree carvings painted gold with elephants and other figures carved in.Outside people prayed clasping lotus flowers and incense in their hands in front of rows of candles.

Buddha statues in Wat Bowan

Lotus and incense
It struck me how interesting it is that so many religious figures frown on icons and statues, banning them yet they creep back into the practice-- a human need to have an image to represent their thoughts and prayers.

Next we climbed up Loha Praset across from the Golden Mountain and wandered into the wats in the grounds. The main paintings were floral patterns on dark walls but the shutters had been originally painted black then gold and had the pictures carved into that making a scratch board effect.

Loha Praset towers
The Giant Swing which is lacking a swing which takes the fun out of it. It was only for ceremonies but I bet it would be pretty cool to swing suspended from the huge wooden structure over the busy traffic filled round-about.

The Giant Swing
Next to the swing was Wat Suthat. The surrounding covered walkways of the courtyard had more than 100 Buddhas, some black, some gold, and some in the process of being restored (or made). They all had plaques, some with photos so I guess they had been gifts in the memory of people.

Rows of Buddhas
In front of the temple were many Chinese stone statues and pagodas as well as bronze horses. However, the building itself was very Thai with gold and green ceramic tiles on the roof and the tall silhouette which seemed to be trying to stretch to even taller heights with the flame-like roof ornaments.

Wat Suthat
The most amazing aspect was the wall paintings. The black walls were entirely covered with scenes which stretched from the floor to the ceiling about 50 feet above.

The scenes included temples, palaces, wildlife including fantastic dragons (or perhaps just exotic lions). There were people in traditional clothing or ornate palace clothing as well as military uniforms. On one column, an evil looking character carried an elephant. The other wall had rivers, ships, as well as towns and forests.

Carrying off an elephant

Cat fish
One column had a giant crab carrying off an elephant. A water scene had mermaids and whimsical cat, tiger and mouse fish. The paintings had been restored in 1982-1986 with the participation of Germany.

Giant Crabs
Though we didn't visit the Royal Palace this trip (since we visited them the last time we were in Bangkok), this did not prevent Rowshan from taking some pretty photos of it.

The Royal Palace

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