Scene4 Magazine - Arts of Thailand - Vihara Laai Kham | Janine Yasovant August 2010 -

by Janine Yasovant

คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย
Scene4 Magazine-inSight

August 2010

I was delighted to discover that "Vihara Laai Kham", which is a small chapel in Wat Pra Singh temple in Chiang Mai, had been restored with the support of the Jirathivat group at the end of 2005. People refer to the architecture of Wat Pra Singh as the "Vihara Lanna style" There is an important Buddha statue, which was created during the Chiang Saen period (1257-1857), called "Pra Phudtha Sihing", in this chapel. The figure of this ancient Buddha statue is quite elegant.  Actually, there are three Buddha statues with this name in Thailand and nobody knows which one is authentic because all of them were made in the same period and the appearance of each is slightly different.


In the past, this Buddha statue was transferred to many empires including Sukhothai, Krungsri, Ayudhaya and finally to Wat Pra Singh temple. However, all Buddha statues in the chapel are the artistic creation of Lanna artisans and thus it is reasonable that Pra Phudtha Sihing is one of the most revered Buddha statues in the northern part of Thailand.

Vihara Laai Kham welcomes visitors to pay homage to the Pra Phudtha Sihing every day. In the temple area, there is a private secondary and high school for monks and men called "Thammaratsueksa" which is also supported by Wat Pra Singh. My grandfather used to be a principal there and at that time I rode my bicycle to visit him every Saturday because the school was closed on Sunday and on Buddhist holy days.


In addition, there is a main temple which Thai people call "Ubosot" and Tripitaka hall which preserves important scriptures. My grandfather asked me to sit and wait at the chapel. There I saw some fascinating old murals in the building. At the northern side were the paintings which depict the traditional tale of "Sung Thong" (the golden conch). The paintings at this side were made by artists from the northern part of Thailand. At the southern side were the paintings which portray the traditional tale of "Suwannahongse" (the golden swan). The paintings at that side were made by the artists from the central part of Thailand. Visitors can observe these old paintings close up.


There is a circular pillar behind the main Buddha statue and some square pillars in the building. Those pillars were painted with dark red and had a beautiful golden pattern from the ground to the ceiling. There is also a painting of palace dragons and swans behind the Buddha statues. My grandfather noted that Professor Silp Pheerasi (Corrado Ferocil) from Silpakorn University studied the fine arts trend in northern Thailand in the past and observed that an artist in that time preferred to draw the pictures of actual daily life. If we look at the paintings of Sang Thong in the chapel more closely, we might feel that we are in the actual situations of 100 years ago.


At the end of 2005, the huge restoration of Vihara Laai Kham was completed by the chief artisans including Mr. Suwit Chomchuen from Silpakorn. Some of the missing textures and drawing lines in the painting were added as best as possible. The old lines and colors are clearer but some old traces are retained. The gold color is added to the pillars, doors and windows of the chapel. Yellow neon lights enhance the mood of paintings greatly. Many temples in Chiang Mai are in progress of restoration like this.


I took my photos at night (about 8:30pm) in Wat Pra Singh while I was walking there and the next morning I went there again to take more photos of Vihara Laai Kham and other buildings in the temple. This chapel and the paintings are some of the most famous and precious arts from the Ratanakosin period that remain today. Chiang Mai people including myself are very proud of them. We invite all of you to Chiang Mai to see them. I am certain that you will be impressed and pleased with the beauty and meaning of these treasures.



View other readers' comments in the Readers Blog

Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2010 Janine Yasovant
©2010 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer, a Senior Writer for Scene4.
and the manager of the Scene4 bureau in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

August 2010

Cover | This Issue | inFocus | inView | reView | inSight | inPrint | Blogs | Books | New Tech | Links | Masthead Submissions | Advertising | Special Issues | Payments | Subscribe | Privacy | Terms | Contact | Archives

Search This Issue Share This Page Visit Us on Facebook

RSS FeedRSS Feed

Scene4 (ISSN 1932-3603), published monthly by Scene4 Magazine - International Magazine of Arts and Media. Copyright © 2000-2010 AVIAR-DKA LTD - AVIAR MEDIA LLC. All rights reserved.

Now in our 11th year of publication with
comprehensive archives of over 5000 pages