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Thailand Building a surreal dream(3)


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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.

Published in: Travel

Thailand Building a surreal dream(3)

  1. 1. The museum's three separate floors symbolize the universe and are designed in accordance with the three-tiered cosmology of the Hindu-Thai Buddhist concept of Tribhumi. The basement level represents the underworld. Alongside rare artefacts from furniture to ceramics and pottery, large display boards detail the history and construction of the Erawan Museum. Moving up to the next level, depicting the human world, the exquisite interior decoration inside the dome-shaped architecture reflects a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western art. Highlights include the splendid stained glass ceiling on which a world map and zodiac are illustrated, the creative design of German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf. Intricately detailed stucco works by Phetchaburi artisans were elaborately installed over the sweeping staircases, and magnificent arches as well as the Avalokiteshavara shrine are situated on the mezzanine level. All these decorative stuccos are enhanced with countless pieces of crusted Bencharong ceramics. The stained glass ceiling of the pedestal upon which the Erawan stands
  2. 2. Guan Yin in the temple
  3. 3. Intricately detailed stucco works by Phetchaburi artisans were elaborately installed over the sweeping staircases, and magnificent arches as well as the Avalokiteshavara shrine are situated on the mezzanine level.
  4. 4. The mythological Sumeru Mountain (considered the pillar of the world) was supported in the cosmological ocean on the back of a great fish called Anondha, which kept it safe above water. All these decorative stuccos are enhanced with countless pieces of crusted Bencharong ceramics.
  5. 5. One of the most valued crafts collected by educated Thais is Benjarong, a strong porcelain painted with five special colors. Many of the Thai kings of the Chakri dynasty had several Chinese wives who often brought their own Benjarong with them to Thailand as part of their wedding dowry.
  6. 6. The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is honored as Kuan- Yin, the preserver of Buddhism. Her statue stands centre place
  7. 7. The Benjarong is a traditional form of Thai porcelain. The style of multi-colored enamels on a white porcelain base came from Ming dynasty China.
  8. 8. The name “Benjarong” was derived from Bali and Sanskrit words Benja and Rong, meaning literally “Five Colors”.
  9. 9. “Five Colors” really means “many colors” because the hand- painted pieces are usually decorated in three, five, eight colors, or even more. In the 13th – 18th century, Benjarong porcelain was exclusively made for the royal court. Later its use extended to aristocrats and wealthy merchants; today people of all nationalities use Benjarong for formal ware.
  10. 10. The Anondha fish
  11. 11. Temple of Guan Yin
  12. 12. The designs on the earliest Benjarong used a limited number of colors mostly for religions subjects but eventually a new design style grew up known as “Lai Nam Thong” which used gold as its distinctive colors. In the reign of King Rama II (1809- 1851) Lai Nam Thong wares with gorgeous gold accents were very popular. Today, the original Benjarong porcelain wares have display at the Thai National Museum in Bangkok.
  13. 13. Temple of Guan Yin
  14. 14. Temple of Guan Yin
  15. 15. Lek Viriyaphant’s ambition was fulfilled. Even during the construction of Erawan Museum, the Thais would come to pray and worship the God elephant and ask for blessings and prosperity in their lives. This practice has been passed on for generations. The Erawan Museum has served its purpose, as a bearer and guardian of sacred artifacts, and as the center of place of worship for the Thais and to all believers. Temple of Guan Yin
  16. 16. For Mahayana Buddhists, Kwan Yin is an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara in female form, also known as “The Goddess of Mercy or Compassion.” Most Thai people worship Kwan Yin because they expect good luck or fortune. Perhaps they believe that Kuan Yin can give them a lucky number for their next lottery, or some people believe that Kwan Yin can give them some good advice for their business, family, health, or any of life's problems. Temple of Guan Yin
  17. 17. Two staircases studded with porcelain wind upstairs on either side of the hall, virtually the stairways to heaven, passing the altar of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, on the way up.
  18. 18. Temple of Guan Yin
  19. 19. Temple of Guan Yin
  20. 20. Temple of Guan Yin
  21. 21. Guan Yin in the temple
  22. 22. Guan Yin in the temple
  23. 23. A narrow spiral staircase passing through the right hind leg of the elephant leads to Tavatimsa Heaven, deep inside the elephant's belly. At the top, in the belly of the beast, is Tavatimsa Heaven. This in Buddhist cosmology lies above Mount Meru and said to be where sacred beings, including elephant deity Airavata, congregate. According to Thai cosmology, Sumeru Mountain is considered the pillar of the world as well as the center of the universe. The mountain, supported by Anondha fish, stays above the surface of the water.
  24. 24. Here, the solemn serenity of the room's Buddha images - a walking Buddha and eight more in a variety of postures - is oddly offset by lurid abstract art that lines the concave walls, and depicts the solar system. True to the fusing of ideas, art-forms and religions which runs throughout, here the solemn serenity of a temple meets the surrealism of a painting, albeit a three-dimensional
  25. 25. A lift makes it possible for all visitors to experience Tavatimsa, and it’s not a bad idea to take advantage of it after a few minutes in shadowy heaven even if your legs are healthy — it’s a dizzying walk back down the long spiralling staircases. Inside the Elephant Head
  26. 26. This eye-catching room on the top of the museum marks the second heaven where Indra resides, and houses two superb Buddha images, glistening with gold. Portions of relics of the Lord Buddha are placed inside the walking Buddha statue below a replica of the Phra Phuttha Sihing. Apart from a display of old Buddha images from different periods, the most charming feature of this level is its curved wall and ceiling, which was transformed into a representation of the eternal cosmos with beautiful hand-painted patterns
  27. 27. The lotus light ceiling
  28. 28. To the casual visitor, the museum with the three-headed elephant may appear garish or gaudy at first glance. But if we are to reexamine the objectives of the museum which are to preserve and retain Thai art and culture on Thai soil as a heritage for subsequent generations in a structure that symbolizes the Thai cosmos, its purpose is fulfilled.
  29. 29. Sound: Thai Traditional Music Text & Pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu 2013