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About this photograph

Margery H. Freeman
Date created
Bangkok, Thailand
This photograph copyright ©2006. Terms of use

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Man and woman fishing (Thai Ramayana mural)

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A detail from a Ramayana mural painting at the Emerald Buddha Temple shows a man and a woman in an idyllic scene of country life.

An older white-haired man smoking a pipe and wearing short pants sits on a dock with a younger woman wearing long pants who is fishing with a pole. Behind them are two thatched-roof, wooden Thai-style houses built on a dock at the water’s edge. To the right is a rocky mountainside graced by low bushes and flowers. The painting includes mostly blue, brown, and white paint pigments.

This mural is designed to suggest what life was like in the ancient kingdoms where Rama and Sita were born. Yet it actually is based on an idealized vision of life during the late 1800s in Siam (now Thailand).

Some Siamese versions of the Ramayana (called Ramakian in Thailand) were lost when the Burmese sacked the Siamese royal city of Ayudhya in 1767. A new version was created between 1797 and 1807 under the writing supervision of King Rama I, the founder of the Chakri dynasty. His version was depicted on murals painted around the Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok.

In addition to their knowledge of the Indian epic Ramayana, the mural paintings also suggest a familiarity with Chinese styles of landscape painting.

The original mural paintings in the Emerald Buddha Temple galleries are two hundred years old, but scenes are repainted from time to time under the supervision of the Thai royal family.

This image was photographed in August 1984.