Luang Prabang, 20 February 2013
I must confess to a certain weakness for the Buddhist temples in this part of the world. I first came across them nearly thirty years ago (Good Lord, is it really that long ago?) when my wife and I visited Japan. My photos of that trip are packed away with all the rest of our stuff in Vienna, so I’ve borrowed a few pictures from the web to refresh my memory, all from Kyoto, a wonderful place. This is Kiyomizu-ji.
But probably the most iconic temple of them all in Kyoto is Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
Look at that delicate architectural tracery embedded so naturally, so lightly, in the surrounding greenery.
Many years later, my wife and I saw another style of Buddhist temple in Bangkok during a brief stay there on our way to Angkor Wat. This is Wat Benchamabophit:
And this Wat Ratchanatdaram:
And then, once here in China, we saw yet another style, a heavier, more “imperial” style. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is one of the nicer examples.
All quite different. But I think you will agree that there is a common thread: the raking of the roofs. I don’t know what it is, but this lift of a roof at its tip really gives a wonderful grace to a building, even a rather heavy, stodgy building like the Temple of Heaven.
So it was with pleasure that we saw this again in Laos, first in Vientiane:
Then in Luang Prabang:
I saw other things that warmed the cockles of my heart, like this for instance:
This is where I can refer the reader back to my previous post. What we’re seeing is the similar use of paintings to educate the faithful in two places that are nearly 9,000 kilometres apart. The Italians have an expression for this, tutto il mondo è paese, the whole world is but a village; in the end, we’re all the same wherever we live. In the previous post, it was my young daughter who was illiterate. In this case, it was me – and alas, I had no-one who could explain the story which the paintings were telling.
We also liked the way that the temples had different roofs piled one on the other.
It quite reminded us of the stave churches in Norway, several of which we had visited some five years ago:
Tutto il mondo è paese.
We also liked a certain set of Buddha statues that we came across. These are in the “praying for rain” position:
And these are in the “no war” position:
Well, I suppose that’s what we all want, isn’t it? We want to eat our fill and live in peace.
Tutto il mondo è paese.
Temple of heaven: http://templeofheavenbeijing.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Temple-of-Heaven.jpg
Norwegian stave church: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llqkm5GrsA1qzxqgco1_1280.jpg
the other pictures: mine