The regular Buddhist temples are beautiful enough, but every so often you get some sort of oddball design. Such as this temple made out of beer bottles in Si Saket province, bordering Cambodia, mentioned on this Board before.
And here’s another one up in Chiang Rai province in our Far North: Rong Khun Temple. A work in progress, it’s expected to take another century to finish.
Excerpt from the link: "Undoubtedly the most bizarre element of the design is the presence of contemporary images throughout the interior. Images of the Predator from the Schwarzenegger film franchise, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Avatar, Keanu Reeves’ character in the Matrix, rocket ships, and many others line the walls of the sanctuary. The sea of hands holding skulls rising up towards the bridge to the temple is also very striking."
I could swear I’ve seen a similar sculpture representing victims of the atomic bombings, but maybe not. It’s pretty scary looking regardles. I love the outside of the temple. It has a fractal or flame-y quality.
Hard to say. So many local Buddhists follow very un-Buddhist-like practices. For just one example, many are convinced it’s strict Buddhist doctrine for the winning numbers to appear on certain tree trunks. That’s no joke! Some monks actually have a thriving trade in accepting donations for “interpreting” what certain tree trunks claim will be the winning numbers in each round of the government’s twice-monthly lottery. Other examples abound. Sometimes it’s a question of a particular Buddhist sect, sometimes it’s the local pre-Buddhist animism persisting with the locals still think it run-of-the-mill Buddhism.
But these odd temple anomalies are not too uncommon. I know of a Heaven and Hell Temple in Pattaya that will seriously scare the bejesus out of you. A Visions of Hell Temple in Sukhothai province. And although not a temple per se, there’s the bizarre “Buddhist-themed” Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park in Nong Khai province, up by Laos. (I think there are some YouTube videos for at least that last one. Check them out.)
Ah yes, there’s a YouTube video here of the Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park. Not so much creepy as oddball, especially the embracing skeletons about two or three minutes in. Not nearly as scary as the Heaven and Hell Temple in Pattaya, which is downright gross. I’ll have to find some photos of that. But the wife and I have visited the sculpture park in this video. Worth a look if you’re in the neighborhood. The mystic shaman responsible for it died 15 years ago and was earlier kicked out of Laos for his unorthodox views.
There’s also what has become known locally as the David Beckham Shrine, at Pariwas Temple in Bangkok. The English footballer’s image has been included as a minor deity since 2000 and rather underscores the religious fervor with which many Thais follow football (soccer). There’s a short video of that here. An image here.
Thanks for those links, Sam! The Sala Kaew Ku park looks amazing. I wish we had more sculpture parks here in the US. But it’s not really part of our tradition. And I guess it would lose something without all the greenery, maybe.
I had no idea that modern figures were ever incorporated in those shrines, much less that football was such a big deal there. I wonder what Beckham thinks about it all.
I hope I get to Thailand one day. You make it sound like there’s something fascinating everywhere you look.
I haven’t got the site to load yet. But, I wanted to say thank you for sharing it with us.
RE Modern Imagery
I remember back in the eighties, there was a contest to design a grotesque to go on the National Cathedral in DC. One of the four or so finalists was a bust of Darth Vader. The judge found the use of a modern face of evil interesting.