Concrete heads hang from trees sprouting moss and grass.
A demon towers above you wielding a sword.
Hands reach up from the depths below.
This is the magical temple of Wat Rong Khun in Chian Mai, Thailand.
A severe contrast to the traditional Thai temples you have seen before.
Painted white to symbolise the purity of Buddha, with shards of mirrors embedded to reflect light as a representation of how the wisdom of Buddha is shone out across the earth, each and every detail of Wat Rong Khun has been thoroughly thought out and carries immense symbolism.
That, however, is where the similarities amongst Thai temples, end.
Once you get inside, intricate paintings of traditional Thai art and murals are broken up with pop culture, sci-fi, cartoons and superheroes, all weaving through the patterns and incorporating themselves against tradition.
Whilst it’s admittedly different, it’s a beautiful collaboration between old and new, modern and traditional.
Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as “The White Temple” is one of the most unique and exquisite works of cultural art in Thailand. Designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, the journey of this beautiful temple began in 1997, and whilst it is stunning and a total hit with camera-bearing explorers such as myself, it’s said that the actual site won’t be complete for another 30 years.
Most of the temple’s messages symbolise escaping passion and desire and moving towards tranquil and sublime through Buddhist teachings, but there are also so many other ways it can be interpreted.
Old-world tradition is being incorporated into a new modern world. The balance between heaven and hell, of darkness and light, of death and birth, of new beginnings.
And that’s what I love about it.
It’s a work of art so open to interpretation.
A beauty I never would have known about if I hadn’t stumbled across its picture on Pinterest all those years ago!