Thursday, August 28th 2014

Strange interior of the White temple in Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple of Chiang Rai is one of the main attraction of the Northern Thailand. Most probably many saw pictures of it. It is a completely white fairy tale looking temple. Wat Rong Khun is very different from any Buddhist temple I have seen before. It reminds me of fairy tales where castles are made of snow and ice. Coming from a country where we have real winters it is a bit strange to see this structure as if made of snow in warm climate of Thailand.

Wat Rong Khun White temple 14

But the temples and statues of this Buddhist complex is not the only peculiar feature. When you see the main chapel from outside you don’t really anticipate what you will see inside and how it will surprise you. I am sure different people have different reactions. I personally thought it was some kind of a joke or mockery.

Wat Rong Khun White temple 10

When you enter the main central wall is adorned with statues of Buddhas and other Buddhist symbols. But the opposite wall will definitely make you raise your brows in surprise when you see burning twin towers, angry birds, Spiderman or characters from Star Wars.

White temple Chiang Rai 12

White temple Chiang Rai 12

Besides them you will Michael Jackson, Freddy Kruger, Terminator, Neo from Matrix, Transformers, characters from Avatar, Harry Poter, Elvis Presley and even Kungfu Panda. It is weird for a Buddhist temple, isn’t it?

White temple Chiang Rai 01

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White temple Chiang Rai 09

White temple Chiang Rai 10

All this looks very unusual and even strange but that was the idea of the Thai Buddhist artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. His idea is to show the good and bad using images from the popular culture of the West and unfortunate events of 9/11. These unusual murals are placed opposite the Buddhas. I believe they are meant to show that people should clean themselves, their minds from bad intentions and wrong ideas, and that all the popular culture with violence, greed, hedonism is the wrong way in life. People should give up all these unnecessary and turn to the path of purification and enlightenment.

White temple Chiang Rai 11

 I agree that Freddy Kruger or Terminator are not positive characters, but what about Kungfu Panda or Batman? They seem to be good heroes and teach us lessons of fairness by helping and saving others. Probably the only way to learn what exactly the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat meant is to ask him himself.
For now we can see these strange images and make our decisions about what is the message behind them.

What do you think about it? What is the message?

Do you think they are just weird whims of the artist to stand out of the crowd or a skillful new approach to deliver the important message?

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11 Comments on “Strange interior of the White temple in Chiang Rai”

  1. more photos of photo-prohibited murals, well done farang kee nok!
    ugly disrespectful Westerner, STAY HOME

    1. Dear Alessandro, please explain to me what is so much prohibited in those murals – Kungfu Panda, Angry Birds, Batman or Spiderman? Why people should not see pictures of these murals? Are these sacred ancient Buddhist symbols?

  2. The artist has requested that photos not be taken of the murals. To take photos anyway, and publish them on the Internet, is total disrespect. Shame on you.

    1. Dear Angela, I probably should not have done that, but I still believe that the artist wanted to deliver his message. If entrance fee is not charged, I don’t really see what is wrong in posting pictures online? Why do the people who cannot visit be deprived of possibility to see what is inside the temple? Is there any official statement from the artist where he requests no photos of interiors?

  3. I agree with others we have been here and didn’t take photos as requested…you paid to enter and have a look not to take photo’s! Also if you had purchased his book in the shop for a small price you would have received some information and also photo’s. If you read into it more you may have realised that these things are distractions for him in the world which prevent him to finding full enlightenment and thats why they are there not because they are all negative sometimes you have to open your mind, although this vision may not make sense to you it did to him and his community which he taught to build, paint!

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