Anek Kuson Sala, also known as the Chinese Museum, was the last temple we visited prior to heading back toward Bangkok. It is more museum than temple. It honors the unique relationship between China and Thailand. It was packed with statues and icons from China and Thailand. Some of my favorite were the shaolin priests in various poses.
Buddha In The Rock
On our way to that temple, we first stopped off to see the Buddha IN the mountain. Yes, IN the mountain. In honor of the King, this Buddha image was laser engraved into the side of a mountain. It measures 130 metres high and 70 meters wide. It is truly massive.
I would have liked to stay longer and really take in the magnificence of this creation but such was not to be the case. We stopped by, snapped a few pics then drove off to the Chinese temple.
For a 100 or so Bhat (the equivalent of about $2 USD) we were admitted to the Chinese museum / temple. It was definitely money well spent for the museum was magnificent.
The Courtyard was loaded with statues in every size and shape imaginable along with quite a few flowering plants creating a beautiful entry way.
The first statue I encountered was this monkey which looked like it may have been the model for the monkeys in the original Planet of the Apes movie that I saw at a drive in theater back in 1968 (and a few times since. It is a classic with poignant social commentary. There was a remake many years later which, while visually appealing, had, for me, a far less emotional impact the than the original.)
As beautiful and ornate as the courtyard was, it did little to prepare me for the inside of the museum buildings.
As is usual for this part of Asia, shoes must be removed before and left outside before entering temples. If you don’t like walking in barefeet, make sure you bring along a pair of socks.
To my great shock and surprise, the museum houses two authentic Terracotta Soldiers from China along with a small scale replica of the Terracotta Army as it exists in China. I have long wanted to visit the actual site in which they were discovered. That not being a possibility at the moment, I was ecstatic to see the real thing. There were four statues, two replicas, pictured here, and two original protected inside a glass box.
Never in my dreams did I imagine I would stumble upon a couple of these ancient creations while in Thailand. They alone were worth the price of admission. The remaining artifacts including vases and paintings and carvings and wood work with beautiful inlay added to my delight.
The 2nd floor of the building houses a large Chinese god whose name I never determined. Worshippers bowed before the statue. The room contained ornate tapestries and a very large yin/yang symbol in the ceiling. I would have like to approach the idol for a closer look but didn’t want to interfere with the worshippers.
The building opens to a outdoor pavilion hosting many statues. The most dramatic were the Shaolin monks in a various martial arts poses. Was it a coincidence that I had watched some repeats of the Kung Fu TV series on the plane ride to Thailand?
The third floor was dedicated to Buddha. There were more worshippers here than on the first floor so, again, I did not approach the icon for a more detailed view. They bow three times. The first is for the Buddha, the second for the people, and the third for the priests.
I also learned while at the museum that there is a Buddha image assigned to a person depending upon the day of the week born. With the help of my iPhone calendar (I do love modern technology), I identified that I was born on a Sunday.
The Buddha for my day is Phra Tawai Natra (Restraint) in what is called the open-eye posture. The image represents a time just after Buddha obtained enlightenment when, for gratitude, he stood and admired a bodhi tree (I plan to visit the actual bodhi tree, hopefully in March, as it is located on the East side of India) for one week without blinking an eye. Traditionally, those born on Sunday are respectable, wise, loved by friends and family, likely to be in a professional occupation. Don’t know if I’m truly wise but I will accept that characteristic for myself.
There were way too many works of art to truly give each it’s deserved attention during the couple of hours we visited. Perhaps, one day, I will return and give adequate time to honor each of them for their beauty.
Thailand is a magnificent country, one I highly recommend you add to your bucket list.
This first image reminds me of Confucius but I’m not really sure who it is. Named or not, it’s a magnificent statue.
The Chinese God on the 2nd floor was exquisite…
…as was the detail in the Buddha on the third floor.
These next couple of pictures are on Thai dolls. They stand close to a foot in height. By the looks of these two (and many of the others), the Thai must entertain some wicked scary dreams.
Not all the Thai dollars were scary so I guess they also have pleasant dreams.
This appeared to be granite. It was finely etched in amazing detail. The dimension are in the 6 by 6 foot range. It was gorgeous. I wish it hung in my home.
This mini temple was on the pavilion of the 2nd floor with the shaolin monks.
This one gold statue was outside in a sea of black statues. One is supposed to put a coin in the hands of the statues for good luck.
Looking at this statue reminded me that my mom used to tell my dad he had chicken legs.
I love the detail in these statues particularly the detail in the faces.
As in other parts of Thailand, Hindu deities were represented at the museum. The top one I don’t recognize. The bottom is the familiar Lord Ganesha.
This bench captured my imagination. I love exotic wood products. I’m not sure how comfortable it would be to lean against the back. Perhaps that’s what the stone inlays are for.
These Kung Fu figurines were around 6 inches in height. They would go great with the icon collection I have started while living in Pune. I guess I need to go to a Shaolin temple in China so I can get some.
Three dimensional Chinese wall art. Great dragons.
I’ve read about Chinese vases all my life (and have seen the Stooges break a few). This one stood about 6 feet tall.
Another beautiful example of the art housed at the temple.
This beautiful Thai building was on the same grounds with the Chinese museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we visited. Since it was our last day in this area, it’s a building I would not be able to explore.