Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mental Snapshots, Rama V Throne Room

Things I've heard, seen, or smelled recently:
Tiger pelts for sale. 0_o
Puffer fish turned into multi-colored lanterns at a restaurant. (Khao Sarn)
Rain. It smells the same.

The throne room of King Rama V (Chulalongkorn), which is usually closed to visitors - opened for Children's Day (second Saturday of January in Thailand). Free admission (even farangs!) - except women must wear skirts, pants covering everything don't cut it. Required sarong cover up purchase, 40 baht. Seeing men who were wearing shorts forced to buy and wear the sarongs as well - priceless. Though some younger girls got away with pants - apparently prior to a certain age they register as "child" not "female - must cover, cover up!"

Am I in Thailand or did I just worm hole to Italy? Wait, there are Buddha images in the frescoes. Architecturally speaking, I might as well have been in Florence. And hey - there are marble statues of farangs everywhere. Hang on, he's (marble statue) got a very precariously draped cloth and no shirt - where's HIS sarong?!?! And don't get me started on the embroidery depiction's dress code violations - ah well. Noticeably, much of what was on display were contemporary replicas, commissioned to honor the King and/or Queen in the past two decades, keep traditional Thai arts from dying, and employ rural Thais that need the employment in the process. Cool over all I suppose, though I was expecting more things from you know, Rama V's time, and it did reduce the 'wow these have aged really well' factor to realize oh, it was completed in 2007. And again, I'm back in Italy - NO FOTO. Meh. I got a photo of the outside of the building. Sorry guys. Crafts included ridiculously intricate wooden carvings taller than two (maybe three) of me and just as wide depicting a Thai myth, meticulously crafted beetle wing ornamentations on sculptures and things - embroidery (mostly contemporary), crazy detailed gold boat sculptures with something like 70 artisans and 2 years of work to their names, and of course the frescoes, sculptures, marble, gold leaf Corinthian columns, and the throne itself. Replica or original? Couldn't tell you. It was pretty cool though.

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