Wat Pho Kham, That Phanom,Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, Buddhism

20130111_094824The Temple is located in Nam Kham village south of Thai Phanom and the Kham River. This is yet another of the isaan Mural temples from the Paper by Pairote Samosorn “E-sarn Mural Paintings” 1989. The paper sponsored by the Toyota Foundation is available as a bilingual book. Once again much like Wat Phra Si Mahapho in Mukdahan there is a “disconnect between what he describes and what is on the walls. At times I wonder if he actually visited some of the sites or were students sent to complete the survey? We have, once again, a wonderful example of an early 20th century ubosot. Unfortunatly, you need to see this one and many of the others soon as they are not being maintained to any standard and are deteriorating at a quick pace.

I still have been unable to find out why these particular sims were so decorated and others not. The subject of many are the Jataka tales which have always been popular in Isaan. Most of the artists seem to have been Vietnamese and much of the work carried out in the 1930s.And I am still at a loss as to why the Tourism Authority of Thailand fails to list these. The mural wats and other wats and buildings found of importance by the Fine Arts Department and the Royal Gazette as well as by Universities are outside the area of interest to the Tourism Authority of Thailand yet sites that do not exist or have been closed for years are still carried by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in their many documents. There are about a dozen points of interest between That Phanom and Mukdahan if you are interested in that area along the Mekhong River.

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Here is what Pairote Samosorn has to say


Wat Phokham,
Ban Nam Kam, That Phanom District, Nakhon Phanom Province
The upper portions of the four interior temple walls of Wat Phokham are
covered with paintings imitating double cloth banners. These depict the tale of Vessantara.
This painting style of banners stretches from the top of the walls downward to the middle
of the windows. Most of the lower portions of the walls are left unpainted.
Three bands are used as frames for the paintings running along the four walls. ‘
The top one has stemlike curling foliage designs. The middle frame is decorated with
flamboyant scrolls, and the bottom one is ornated with rich designs. ’
The overall air of the paintings is brilliant,transparent and clean. The backdrop
looks as light as the screen of shadow plays. The figures are well harmonized with the
background. However, the paintings are sufficiently distinct to tell which subject they
represent. The figures do not float against the backdrop in contrast t’o the Ratanakosin
murals in the reign of King Rama Ill where the figures generallly stand out from the
background by means of dark and sometimes almost black tones. The dark tones suggest
the third dimension that differs far from the traditional two dimensional Thai murals.
This causes the picture plane to maintain an architectural structure, a characteristic
denoting a later style of expression in art. ‘
Here the muralist spread a thin layer of light colour over the backdrop to retain
ll air of brightness and transparency This thin light hue in the background
the over-a –
seems to produce a milder effect for the atmosphere than in the previous whitewashed
surface coating.
The humanfigures and the transparent background were harmoniously com-bined; the painter outlined each figure confidently but naively indicating the quality of
folk art. This is a local characteristics which differs from that of the court artists who
executed sinuosity and finesse of contour lines.
Phaw Lee Chapraan, a mild, sensitive, and dedicated muralist, who is the pupil
of Artist Luang Charn Aksorn, has painted evenly and meticulously on the four interior
walls of Wat Phokham. ‘
This painter, known for the subject of painting as Buddhist offerings interpreted
the idea of his paintings through simplicity,humour and playfulness, but without any
licentiousness or eroticism. .
The most distinguished pictures on which the painter focussed his ability are the
ones opposite and behind the principal Buddha image.
The background behind the Buddha image includes a touch of yellow enclosing
all the figures with a border of tinted greenish sky blue and light green.
The background of the paintings opposite the Buddha image, beginning from
the top of the window gives a resemblance of air. Thin layers of light green, greenish
sky blue, yellowish green and yellow fill the backdrop.
On the two lateral inside walls, the prominent elements are rocks, grey mountains
and dusky green trees. The tree-covered rocks form a shape curve looking like one of the
Thai alphabets.
The dominant hue of the background of the scenes is chrome yellow. The chrome
yellow is also used in parts of royal costumes including the headdresses. This colour is
used insteadof gold leaf which is generally used in the central Thai murals. Blacks,
indigoes, greens and oranges are commonly used in the wall temple paintings around
the sites of the Mekong Basin and the Central Northeast. .
A particular characteristic of the paintings of Wat Phokham isithat reds and
browns are absent, thin orange being used instead.

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  1. […] The Temple is located in Nam Kham village south of Thai Phanom and the Kham River. This is yet another of the isaan Mural temples from the Paper by Pairote Samosorn “E-sarn Mural Paintings” 1989. The…Continue reading […]

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