Thai Folk Art   Scroll below for links to my thumbnail pages
At many temples in Thailand, you will see a variety of sculptures, murals and other forms of artwork
that will tell a story.  These stories can come from the Buddhist scriptures, from folklore, Thai
proverbs and other beliefs.  These representations can teach people easily a good way to live.

Most fascinating to me are the depictions of hell at various temples. They usually follow a similar
theme, but will have differences in the way they are depicted artistically.  There is usually a central
theme of a thorned tree which is a punishment for adultery,  which is called Ton Ngew. There are dogs
at the bottom of the tree, which will bite adulterers if they don't go up the tree, and a crow at the top
that will bite if they get to the top. There is a pot of boiling copper which is called Kra Ta Tongdaeng,
from which, either people will have to drink or where they are placed as a punishment. There are
usually two very large and tall sculptures of a man and woman in the middle of the tableaux.  In both
Suphan Buri and Bang Saen, the figures are over four stories high. The man is a "Prate" and has
received this punishment for treating his parents badly. There are other sculptures surrounding the
large figures (also called "Prate") of those receiving various punishments upon judgement in hell.  

There is a person called Yam Pa Pan, or Yam Ma Toot, who is not in hell, but sits in judgement of those
who have died, and will send them either to heaven or hell, depending on their life. It is interesting to
note that the Thai Buddhist view of hell differs from the western view in that it is a temporary place
where beings go until their negative karma is used up. They then can be reborn into another realm.  

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Right, one of a series of
statues depicting common
Thai proverbs and idioms,
at the Buddhist temple
called Wat Saen Suk
Sut-ti-wa-ra-ram in Bang
Saen, Chonburi.  
here for a thumbnail page
of the photos of the
proverbs.  Scroll down for
more pages of photos of
Thai proverbs and idioms.
Left, a partial detail
of a painting on the
interior temple wall,
of Kra ta tongdaeng,
the boiling pot of
copper in which a
person has been
placed in hell, at Wat
Tha Soong temple in
Uthai Thani.
here for a larger
photo of the painting
Right, a partial
detail of a painting
on the interior
temple wall of Ton
Ngew, the tree of
adultery, at Wat
Tha Soong temple
in Uthai Thani.

Click here
for a
large photo of the
painting detail.
Right, a
heaven and
hell on the
exterior wall of
Wat  Tha
Temple in
Uthai Thani.
Click here for
a larger view
of the painting.
This page is a sampling of some of the sculptures
depicting hell present at the Buddhist temple called
Wat Pairongwua in Supan Buri.  There is a variety of
portrayals in the sculpture, ranging from the horrific
to the unusual.
While there are stylistic differences, the depiction of
hell at Wat Saen Suk Sut-ti-wa-ra-ram in Bang Saen,
Chonburi is shown using the same convention as at
other Buddhist temples throughout Thailand.
At Wat Pairongwua in Suphan Buri, there are
depictions of the Buddha's life, in both statue and
mural medium. There are also depictions of heaven at
the temple, and while lovely and serene, they are
sedate in comparison to the depictions of hell. There
is also one of the largest Buddha images I have ever
seen at this temple.
There are depictions of the different stages of
Buddha's life, mostly using statues as a medium at
Wat Saen Suk Sut-ti-wa-ra-ram in Bang Saen,
Chonburi. There are murals in a Sala that illustrate the
Buddhist scriptures, but also, the scriptures are also
represented in statue form.  There are Buddha
statues in all of the standard postures here.
There is a wide range of styles of Chinese gods and
goddesses at the Wat Saen Suk Sut-ti-wa-ra-ram in
Bang Saen, Chonburi.  One of the statues is much
taller than a house, and people will throw coins into
the navel for good luck.
Its fun to see cultural differences in the way idioms
and proverbs are used. The idioms relate more the
daily life of the people, and if the daily life is different,
the idiom or proverb will be different. The name of the
proverb is on each photo in an Anglicized version of
the Thai Language. The meaning in both Thai and
English is written below the photo's title on each
photo page.  These photos come from Wan Saen Suk
Sut-ti-wa-ra-ram in Bang Saen, Chonburi.
Note: A brief explanation of the depictions of hell is described at the Thai World View website: Click here to go that site.
Folk Art at Temples in Thailand
Photos of Life in BangkokFlowers from my gardenHeaven and Hell in Supan Buri - Folk ArtTemples in Bangkok and the provinces of ThailandSitemap2
Copyright 2007 Brent Damon Heironimus
The Chinese Zodiac is represented in a truly Thai
style at Wat San Suek in Bang Saen, Chonburi.  Thai
mythical characters ride atop the varying animals.
Thai Folk Art   click for thumbnail pages
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