The Artist’s house, Bangkok

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Bangkok, as many cities in the “South” is a pot-pourri of sorts. Extreme beauty side by side with abandoned car parts in the street. A 21st century elevated metro stepping over century-old canals. The city can get to you. Unless you know special gems hidden away.

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The Artist house on Klong Bang Luang is one such gem. Located in one of the old floating houses on Bangkok’s canals (the Klongs), it is a treasure of old masks and characters from the Ramayana. They are also called Thai puppets. Almost life-size.

The first picture above is a shrine put up in front of a 600 hundred year-old “chedi”, a Thai name for a Buddhist Stupa.

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The Red man. (And the grey man)

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The Thai puppets and Khon masks are used to perform stories from the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem telling the story of Prince Rama and his fight to rescue his wife Sita from Demon king Ravana. Rama is helped by Hanuman, the King of monkeys.

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Life on the Klongs. c. 1950?

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A mermaid puppet. Don’t ask me who she is. I still balk a bit at reading the 20,000+ verses of the Ramayana. I will though. Eventually.

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A demon mask. Ramayana is a good example of “Fusion”. Fundamentally a Hindu story it has sprayed and stayed all across Asia, from, amongst others, Buddhist Thailand to Moslem Indonesia. Whatever their “mainstream” religion and culture, all those countries have adopted Ramayana as a part of their own culture and history. Fusion will be the name of the game.

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On the Klong. c. 1950.

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Khon masks above a touch of Monet’s workshop in Giverny. (I joke you not. Been there)

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The Artist’s house. Late 60’s, very early 70’s maybe?

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Princesses on display. Note the elaborate costumes. Those were the traditional costumes up to the XXth century. A show is performed – almost – everyday, staging stories from the Ramayana. Make sure you check before you go. (There was no show when we went. All the better excuse to go back to Bangkok)

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The owner’s family? Judging by the woman’s hairdo, top left, mid to late 40’s.

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Who will be rescued? Modern day Princess Sita above? Or below?

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Khob Pun Khraaap. Thank you for hopping along on Equinoxio’s Time-Space shuttle. Second Flight Officer Hanuman reports that Princess Sita has indeed been rescued.

55 thoughts on “The Artist’s house, Bangkok

  1. It is interesting how Ramayana story spreading around the world and influence the local’s folklore. I also know some Dutch people who read Ramayana and Mahabharata books. Thanks for sharing this!

    • My pleasure Indah. It is indeed interesting. I think it talks about fundamental themes. Love, good and evil, friendship (Hanuman). Universal. I think I will try to find a version of Ramayana when I go to Paris. The old book boxes along the Seine must have one. Hope all is well with you.
      (Selamat, selamat… would it be malam at this hour?)
      πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you. I am honoured. Even more so as this blog started as an outlet for my writing until I realized most “readers” prefer images. It is easier. πŸ™‚ Though I still write from time to time. Check the fiction category. Bon week-end, ma chΓ¨re “Libre”.

  2. Bangkok is an intense place. An assault on the sense which can be exhilarating and exhausting. I was there in 1992, and I can imagine how much it had changed since then. Thanks for the trip, Brian.

    • You’re very welcome Julie. I did remember you mentioned that. 25 years? Yes, it must have changed, and yet some landmarks are still there. I will post more on Bangkok. It is a fascinating city.
      Bon week-end mon amie.

    • All the more reason to go back. πŸ™‚
      e only saw it because Daughter #2 was several times in Bangkok and is very adept at finding such gems. πŸ™‚
      (At least you got a touch of it)
      Have a nice week-end

    • I can feel the Devil walking next to me… πŸ™‚
      Thank you for reminding me of that song.
      I just wondered whether, unbeknownst to us, the eighties weren’t the last decade of Mystery and Elegance on this planet. (Watch the video) πŸ˜‰

      • It was a catchy ditty, I vaguely recall the video, will have to YouTube it and rehash the good old days….along with Prince and Bowie of courseπŸ˜ƒπŸ’œ

      • Adding it to the list of must do’s as we speak. Cloudy here and just finished smoked wings a’la hubby, mmmmmm…my shrinking stomach only lets me eat five and that’s enough, diet going well and getting some bike riding in when I can, dodging raindrops todayπŸ˜ŠπŸ’¦πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸŒ§

  3. Lovely, again. The photo “Life on the Klongs” had me looking at the cherished little boy, and wondering who he will become, did he live up to the expectations of his lovingly smiling caretaker/mum/relative?

    • Don’t know about the toes, maybe they fell off when he took his shoes off. All across Asia it is almost mandatory to take one’s shoes off before entering anywhere. A courtesy.
      The pointed hats? Who knows. πŸ™‚

      • Oh my, I’ll never take my shoes off ever again – what if I too lose my toes…!? πŸ˜› πŸ˜€

        I know about that custom, a relatively funny scene springs to mind, from “Fast and furious: Tokyo drift” when main character enters the classroom with shoes on, teacher keeps saying in japanese “wabaki! wabaki!” and he doesn’t understand anything. πŸ™‚ Later on we see him taking shoes off and putting on the slippers (wabaki).

        Now, imagine a handful of tourists – or let’s not say tourists, let’s say people, generally – having traveled by foot on a sunny day for a long time, and then taking shoes off to enter some place. The smell might not be very agreeable. πŸ˜‰ Out here, the custom is to never ask guests to take their shoes off when entering a home but they are free to do so if they want to. However, occasionally some homeowner may ask that if they feel their floors and carpets are too “precious”. πŸ˜‰

        For some reason I never fancied puppets, not even as a child. Not even “The muppets show”, although at times it may have been funny. Yeah, I’m weird like that. πŸ™‚ Much prefer modern day Princess, she’s so cute. πŸ˜‰

        BTW, on YouTube there’s a version of Murray Head’s ‘One night in Bangkok’ featuring Benny, Bjorn and Frida in the chorus, from the ‘Chess’ musical. πŸ˜‰

      • The shoes thing was not so strange. I did spend most of my childhood in Africa barefoot. Now I understand the same happens in Canada and Scandinavia. For opposite reasons: the snow and slosh. Will look the Abba version. Mersi.

      • Well, when walking around barefoot all day, Mr. Spock would say “the logic thing to do would be to put on some kind of wabaki when entering a home, otherwise there would be dirt all over the place”. πŸ™‚

        If you watched this version then yes, those were 3/4 of ABBA, to the right of the scene:
        Murray Head (Chess – ABBA) : One Night In Bangkok (with Benny, BjΓΆrn & Frida ) (00:03:33)
        Agnetha is known for her fear of flight and perhaps she has other reasons too for declining the invitations to reunite for certain public events. Too bad.

  4. Beautiful design of statues. I read the Ramayana & Mahabharat story. It’s really interesting story. I have enjoyed and feeling glad by reading these stories.

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