The Ramakien Mural…heard of it? Chances are that if you’ve never been to Thailand, you wont have done. I certainly didn’t until recently but maybe that’s also because I am ignorant to all culture…not really, I love it – culture and me go hand in hand, together like novovirus and trips to the toilet.
I don’t want to be someone who settles in a country and caries on doing and eating the exact same things I was doing in my country of origin. I know many expats do things this way and I just don’t see the point! I have decided I want to learn the culture, to eat the food, to learn the language (I will do that soon, honest!) and to maybe get to a stage when 5 litres of sweat exits my body every time I step outside, (dream big is what people say and that might be the biggest dream of all).
The Ramakien Mural is located within the grounds of The Grand Palace in Bangkok, which is also the home to The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (I wrote a blog about my trip there and how I met Bjork – just click on the link)
As I say, I didn’t know anything about The Ramakien never mind that there was a mural depicting the said story before I went to the temple, which may explain why it left a deep impression on me, it came at me as a total surprise. The Mural consists of 178 murals, each one a beautifully painted piece of art in its own right.
“But what is the Ramakien, oh wise man?” I hear you whisper, excitedly (or maybe it’s a whisper because you’re falling asleep?). The Ramakien is the story of Rama who spends 14 years in exile until his wife, Sita, is abducted by the demon king, Rawana. Rama decides to rescue her with the help of monkey warriors (Yes there are monkey warriors in this tale…you just know it’s going to be a good story if it’s got monkey warriors in it!)
My photographs won’t really do the work justice but hopefully they will give you an idea into the grand scale of the work and show the type of art that was being painted in 18th century Thailand. For me, the first thing that jumped out was the amount of gold colouring that is used throughout the mural, the painters certainly weren’t under orders to make the work sit quietly in the background.
I am not really an art expert (you have probably noticed) so I won’t pretend to be one but the intricacy of the mural was mind-blowing, every face of every character was unique and full of character. The colour drew you in to the mural but it’s complexity kept you in.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of The Ramakien Mural as many of you, like me, will not have heard of it until now but it’s story helped define a whole country and culture with the story still being taught in schools to this day.
I won’t pretend to know what is going on in the picture above but my guess would be that the big chap is up to no good!
I am no expert on the characters in the Ramakien Mural but I’m guessing the naughty looking fella in the picture above isn’t too friendly either, the people inside the walls look pretty, pretty terrified of him and will need clean underwear by the end of the day to say the least!
But these guys are definitely the monkey warriors who are helping Rama defeat the demon king – GO MONKEY WARRIORS! It was on seeing this section of the mural that I realised the background and the main action in the foreground of the mural are two different artistic styles – the realism of the background makes the foreground imagery jump out more (do I sound like I know what I am talking about? Don’t answer that!)
Hey, look, I know you didn’t get much in the way of ‘artistic knowledge’ in this post but why should you, why can’t you just look at something and make your own mind up without an expert telling you what is going on and why they have done things certain ways? It’s just a really brilliant mural telling a myth of how a country came into being. It looks beautiful, the colours are striking and it’ll knock your bloody socks off!
But my afternoon spent at The Grand Palace wasn’t full of enjoyment I am sorry to say. Some of you reading this seem to have taken a keen interest in how much I sweat on my outings and how much I mention it – well I am told one should always give the people want they want so here goes…The day I went to the Grand Palace and saw the Ramakien Mural was one of the hottest I’ve ever experienced. Worse still nobody is allowed to show their bare legs in royal palaces in Thailand so I had trousers on! I was more sweaty than a ham sandwich wearing a Balaclava in a sauna.
You can see more amazing pictures of the Grand Palace by clicking the link below.