Thailand Building a surreal dream(1)


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Erawan is an Elephant in the Epic literature. Every Thais is familiar with Erawan as literature elephant ridden by Indra. Erawan was built as sculpture with copper as tall as 17 story building.
The museum blossomed from the mind of Lek Viriyapant, an eccentric Thai businessman who made a fortune in the 20th century importing Mercedes Benz automobiles into Thailand. More than just a big-time car salesman, Lek was a creative visionary who devoted much of his time and money to preserving Thai culture while at the same time expanding its horizons. He passed away in 2000 at the age of 86, four years before his ambitious Erawan Museum was opened to the public after decades of creative collaboration and careful construction.

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Thailand Building a surreal dream(1)

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  2. 2. A huge, three-headedelephant statue standingupon an equallygargantuan pedestal is thefirst, and last, thing you seewhen visiting SamutPrakans Erawan Museum.Its a splendid, toweringbeast: 250 tons in weight, 29metres high, 39 metres long,and cast in a pure green-hued copper.
  3. 3. From conceptionto completionit took almostten years toconstruct.With a proud,war-likedemeanor andtrunks the sizeof ancientBanyan Trees,this is an epicimage of HindumythologysAiravata(otherwiseknown asErawan) youllnever forget.
  4. 4.  The Erawan Museum is one of thelatest attraction in Bangkok. Itcomprises of a building with ahuge 3 headed elephant structureon top. The weight of theelephants head by itself  is 100tons, and the weight of theelephant is 150 tons..
  5. 5. The total height ofthe building and theelephant is 43.6meters. The elephantitself is 29m high x12m width x 39mlength. 
  6. 6. The museum blossomed from the mind of Lek Viriyabhun,an eccentric Thai businessman who made a fortune inthe 20th century importing Mercedes Benz automobilesinto Thailand
  7. 7. Ancient city - The GreatBattle of Yuthahathi.Elephants havebeen revered inThailand formany centuries.Famous as thestrongest beasts ofburden, inThailand theywere important inbattle, with kingsmounted onElephantsfighting theBurmese todefend Thailandon manyoccasions.
  8. 8. Whilst most Buddha statutes feature the Buddha in meditation, there aremore than 100 different poses. There are also some postures that eachrepresent the 7 days of the week and Thai people pay particular attention tothe Buddha image which corresponds to the day they were born
  9. 9. A Thailegend hasit that amarriage islike anelephant--the husbandis the frontlegs, thatchoose thedirection,the wife theback legs,providingthe power!
  10. 10. The interior of this building is made of mostly antiques chinawares. The objective of this mix modern building withantiques finishes is to educate the new generation on the useof compass and rudder for vessels, and at the same time theuse of arts and heritage that has been long collected andhigh in value. And also to introduce to the other side of theworld the Asian traditions and culture.  
  11. 11. Frangipani trees wereonce consideredtaboo in Thai homesbecause ofsuperstitiousassociations with theplants Thai name,lantom, which issimilar to ratom, theThai word for sorrow.As a result,frangipanis werethought to bringunhappiness. Today,however, the blossomsare presented asfragrant offerings toBuddha and Thaipeople wear them onspecial festival dayslike Songkran (ThaiNew Year).
  12. 12. Once youve also seenthe museum housedinside and beneath itsroomy belly, itll also beone you never fullycomprehend. Each of itsthree levels symbolizesa part of the Thaicosmos, and headilyfuses rare Easternantiques, rampantreligious iconography,and the mostpsychedelic décor youllsee outside a dream.
  13. 13. And, as thebrochureinforms, thatis exactly whatthis is: onemans dream,come to life.
  14. 14. That man is late business tycoon Lek Viriyapant, the same lively, eccentric spirit that conceived theequally ambitious Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, and Bangkoks popular Ancient City. His aim wasto create a space for his vast collection of Asian antiquities, to preserve them for Thai people andtheir admiration.
  15. 15. However, what was tobe a conventionalmuseum took onsymbolic traits whena friend suggested itbe shaped like anapple, the classicWestern motif ofhuman destiny.Khun Lek thoughtEastern cosmologymore apt, anddecided upon animage of the Hinduelephant otherwiseknown as Erawan, toserve as theinspiration for hisunique museum.
  16. 16. The Elephant of theUniverse. This three-headed elephant(Airavata) was bornof Khun LekViriyapants ideasand imagination. Itwas inspired by hiswish to preserve hiscollection ofantiques as acontribution to Thaicultural heritage.
  17. 17. AroundErawanMuseum lies thebotanicalgarden notedin Thai literaryand thesculpture ofmagicalanimals ofHimavantaforest such askinnara,kinnari, nagaand rajasinghThick swathesof rare flora,and tuckedaway benches,pavilions androcks make iteasy to findspiritualsoothing, orseek quietrepose.
  18. 18. Many of these were priceless objects of art; they were alsoheld as sacred objects for people of ancient cultures.According to ancient traditions, they were believed tobring blessing and prosperity to the land and its people,and therefore must not be lost to outsiders. It had beenMr. Viriyapants concern to find a way that would keepthese objects safe and that would also be suitable to theirtraditional functions.
  19. 19. One day he had a visit from a Westernerwho, during the course of theconversation, suggested the idea ofconstructing the most importantbuilding in the town in the form of anapple which, according to Westerntraditions of belief, played a crucial partin the shaping of human destiny. Thissuggestion was warmly welcomed by Mr.Viriyapant. He nevertheless thought itmore appropriate to adhere to Easterntraditions and thus decided on theheavenly elephant Airavata of Hindumythology. In addition, he wanted thisthree-headed elephant to be more thanjust the vehicle of the god Indra. Theelephant would be a symbol of the centerof the universe and, as such, thebuilding would function symbolically asthe spiritual heart of the land wheresacred objects of the land were housedand revered. He then designed thebuilding and gave the design to KhunPagpean Viriyapant, his eldest son, tobegin construction.
  20. 20. It is not unexpectedthat most Thai peoplehold the Elephant insuch high esteem andreverence. When onetakes a map and looksat the geographicboundaries of presentday Thailand, it takeslittle imagination torealize that thecountry is shaped likean elephants headand trunk.One of NationalSymbols is theNational Animal:“Chang Thai” (orThai elephant)According to ancientroyal Thai traditions,a white elephant is anoble beast of specialimportance,exemplifying a kingshonor and glory.
  21. 21. Alreadyduring theconstruction,the buildingattractedpeople whocame toworship. Thusit fulfilledKhun LekViriyapantswish topreserve sacredobjects for thecountry.
  22. 22. Although both KhunLek and Khun Pagpeandied before theconstruction wascompleted, their heirscontinued their wish tocreate a place whereceremonies andfestivales of Thaitraditions might beheld, and that wouldalso serve as a museumto keep the memory ofKhun Lek Viriyapantslife and work alive forfuture generations.
  23. 23. Over 10 years ofperseverance, commonclay and dust werefinally formed into themassive 43-metre tallsculpture which todaystands on a longstretch of Sukhumvitroad. The elephantsmassive body is set onthe top of a hugeround base painted inpastel pink.Inside thebreathtaking museumhall invaluablereminders ofThailands ancientheritage are kept,while its captivatinginterior is lavishlyadorned with elegantdecorative pieces ofcontemporary art.
  24. 24. Text & Pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu Thai Traditional Music