วันอาทิตย์ที่ 11 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553
A gilded lacquered panel showing Phra Ram and Phra Lak aboard their chariot in full charge led by the monkey general Hanuman and his troops.
Antique hun krabog puppet heads. Their fangs identify them as demons, and their spired crowns denote vice regal status.
The craftsmen labored for several years to complete the murals that tell the Ramakien tale from start to finish. As with the mother of pearl inlay doors at Wat Pho, the artists give license to their imagination and the murals abound with scenes of everyday Thai Life, binding the celestial characters of the Ramakien with the Thai people of the era. Cooking, commerce, and entertainment (including puppet theatres) are all depicted. Sadly, the frescoes' condition has deteriorated over time and restorations included revisions, which deviated from the purely Thai style of mural painting. Western concepts of volume, shading and perspective were introduced, rendering the overall impression less authentically Thai. Nonetheless, the murals remain a vital portrayal of the Ramakien, and a tribute to the artistic taste of the Chakri monarchs. Taking refuge from the crowds that surge around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, an examination of these murals while leisurely strolling through the shaded gallery housing them is one of the most satisfying ways to experience the Ramakien story.
Also within the compound of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, among the soaring gilded chedis (pagodas) are twelve statues of protective demons known as yaksa in Thai. All twelve of the demons are denizens of Longka, the underworld in the Ramakien, including Totsagan, Rama's archenemy. Clad in colored mirror tiles in the blazing sun, they bedazzle more than frighten.
Another visual art reflecting the Ramakien theme is gilded lacquer ware. This art form, that began in the Ayuthaya period and continues until today, employs gold leaf designs on a black background. Indeed one of the treasures of the National Museum in Bangkok is the restored Buddhaisawan Chapel that contains ancient manuscript cabinets for holding Buddhist scriptures that are elaborately gilded with scenes from the Ramakien. This art form not only continues, but has been highly commercialized, with a plethora of small plates and boxes sold to tourists usually employing imagery based on the Ramakien.
Reading of temple art and court performances, one could conclude that the Ramakien exists only in rarefied elements distant from the worlds of the average Thai today, much less the visitor. Fortunately, this is far from true. Every Thai child hears the tale of the brave Phra Ram, his loving brother Phra Lak, the loyal monkey and general Hanuman, and their struggle to free the lovely Nang Sida from the evil Totsagan. The story is told in schools, and children's books relate the tale both as didactic literature and in the entertaining form of comic books. The National Theater and the Fine Arts Departments of regional universities regularly schedule khon performances that are well attended.