Scene4 Magazine: "Ageless Beauty" | Janine Yasovant | July 2011

by Janine Yasovant        คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

If there is one thing that Thai people are proud of, that thing is Thai art which corresponds to the presumed goodness and beauty in the daily life of Thai people. As the religions became the way of life and belief for people, many local artists creatively attempted to blend religious philosophy and concept with their artistic creations. Historically, as with many other cultures, Thai religious art became the patron, promoter and inspiration of some of the greatest works of art in the country.

For many years I observed and studied the symbolic significances of famous Buddha statues. The statues were made with various valuable, often priceless materials and an array of techniques. It is not surprising that many Thai professional artists are keenly interested to paint pictures about Buddhism or sculpt the Buddha statues. Someone once said that there is at least one temple in every kilometer of Chiang Mai city and there are more than 30 famous temples including "Wat Chedi Luang" and "Wat Phra Singh" behind the wall of the old city. An interesting aspect of the Northern 'Buddha' art form is that people usually stare at the lips of large Buddha statues which are in standing, meditating, lying and in other positions. Many want to know why the lips of Buddha statues were painted red. The answer is simply that the red lips of Buddha statues in the Northern style were strongly influenced by Burmese art.

Chiang Mai residents and visitors who come to Chiang Mai are eager to find the most beautiful Buddha statues in the city. This is a matter of personal opinion but I will show you two main Buddha statues that I like the most. These two statues were placed in two educational institutes in Chiang Mai. The first one is called "Pra Chao Kaw Tue" which was in the area of Wat Suandok Chiang Mai, the location of the university for monks "Mahachulalongkorn rajawittayalai" Chiang Mai campus.


This large Buddha statue was made from molten iron and weighs about nine tons ('Tue' is a Lanna language word that means a weight of about 1,000 kilograms). In the past, this Buddha statue was highly praised to be the most beautiful statue in Lanna. In the present, that praise is still unchanged. The statue was made in Chiang Saen style by Lanna and Sukhothai sculptors. Phaya Muang Kaew, the 13th King of Mengrai dynasty ordered the building of this statue in 1484 to be the main Buddha statue of Wat Pra Singh, but the size was too large and too difficult to move. So he gave his royal house to cover the statue and changed it to be a temple instead and gave the new name of the temple "Wat Kaw Tue" which is consistent with the statue. The lap width of the statue is about 3 meters and the height is about 4.70 meters.


The other statue is "Pra Nang Leo", which is in the area of Yupparaj Wittayalai school. Formerly this temple, which is around 400 years old, was not in good condition but later was restored and changed to be the religious place in the school instead. It is believed that this temple and Pra Nang Leo were built in the reign of Tao Mae Ku, the 17th King of Mengrai dynasty. 


The latest restoration was done in 2007. There is also the golden octagon pagoda which was constructed in Lanna style. The building was painted in white and covered with white stucco. This place was influenced by western architecture. The main Buddha statue is the biggest and in the middle, under the golden umbrella.


As the name implied, "Pra Nang Leo" was so beautiful that beautiful maidens who came to give food to monks often turned around again to see the statue with admiration. The name is also recognizable and very strange to be the name of Buddha statue. Many said that Pra Nang Leo is one of the most beautiful Buddha statues in Chiang Mai.

You too will find yourself turning one last time to catch a lingering glimpse of this magnificent work of art.


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Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2011 Janine Yasovant
©2011 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and a writer for Scene4.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine-inSight

July 2011

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Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

July 2011

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