The Wat Pho temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand was filled with all sorts of interesting buildings, but there were also all sorts of interesting statues throughout the complex. Here are photos of some of them from my 2015 visit.
Wat Pho was one of the first places that Gary and Michelle Ford took us during our visit to Bangkok, to help us get a feel of the culture of the city. It also helped us to quickly get accustomed to the heat, because it was definitely hot that day. But that was okay. I barely remember the heat when I look back at all that we did.
Besides, at least I could go in and cool off at times if I needed to. This guy had to continually stand guard out in the sun, or rain, or whatever weather happened to be happening at the time. But at least he never complained about it. He even seemed to be smiling.
This was another of the Chinese guardian statues (similar to this one and this one, and these two at a door) that were found throughout the complex, and another example of the amazing artistry in all of the guardian statues.
These figures in the above photo were much smaller than the guardians, and they were not as intricately carved, but they were still quite interesting. I could make all kinds of guesses as to what these are, but they would probably be wrong. A philosopher guarded by some mythical beasts? A warrior and some mythical beasts? Or maybe those beasts are actually lions. And I don’t know what the man’s purpose is here. Fascinating. I do think the stone of these statues provides a nice contrast to the colorful buildings back behind them, too.
Dragons were found throughout the complex, such as this finely carved creature. Like the guardian statues, several items refer back to Chinese culture, which was interesting to me. Someone had left some prayer beads of some sort for this dragon, perhaps to ask for its blessing or its protection. I am not sure of the exact significance of the beads, but I would definitely want this guy on my side if he were lurking about somewhere.
Obviously, this statue was made of a different type of material from many of the others. I liked the dark colors and how they stand out from the almost white stone used in many of the statues around the complex. I would guess that this statue is from a later era than the guardian statues found throughout Wat Pho, but once again, that is just a guess.
There were lots of Buddha statues around the complex as well. And I mean lots. These are just a few in just one location. They were in all shapes and sizes and configurations and materials. One of these days, I should probably have a separate post of some of the different Buddhas found there, and I am actually surprised that I never have, because I do have several photos of them.
These Buddha statues were not actually behind bars, although it may look like it here. You could freely walk up to them through the columns at the right. But as we were walking into the building that they were outside, I saw this view through the bars and thought it looked rather artistic.
And finally, here are a few more statues found at Wat Pho. I liked how the Chinese gentlemen in this photo were holding up the next level of this pillar that they surrounded, with more of those Chinese beasts on the ledge above them. Just another display of some amazing artistry from long ago. And I liked the different colors of the stone used here compared to some of the other statues.
Although it was not our main purpose of being there, it would have been fun to spend lots more time there to learn more about the history of Wat Pho and about the importance and symbolism of these and other statues. Learning about cultures other than your own can be fascinating. Even if you do not hold to their religious beliefs, it is interesting to learn about what others believe and why, because that knowledge can often help to open doors for conversation and discussions. After all, you have to earn someone’s respect before you can gain their friendship and trust.
I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love. - Ephesians 3:17-18
About the Photos
As you might notice, my choice lens of the time for this trip was the 25mm prime lens. It served as a good general-purpose lens for this trip, although I would occasionally switch to the 14-42mm zoom lens if the need arose for a closer view or a wider view. This was before I got the fisheye lens that I use so often now, so I wonder how my photos might have been different if I had used that lens instead of the prime lens. But I do very much enjoy the depth of field that the prime lens can give, and these photos show that off very well.
These photos were not overly processed. Just some level adjustments here and there. There are times when I like a good deal of contrast, as you can see here. The higher contrast helps to bring out the fine features of these carvings, I think, as well as the interesting textures in the stone. Sometimes, a more simple processing technique works just as well as something long and complex. And it takes less time, too.
Photos: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Olympus M.Zukio 25mm f1.8
Date: May 15, 2015
Location: Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand