Sarah Coles

3. THAILAND. Buddha

  The serenity of temples in Thailand, their sense of happiness!   Buddha is the focus, like the cross in a church.  He may be bronze and shining, green glass or jade, or brick covered with stucco, or painted gold.  He’s duplicated many times, and surrounded by  male followers.  He’s curiously androgynous.  If you look at him with his rounded visage and body, his swelling breasts and slim waist, his hair in a topknot, you can imagine him as a capable headmistress, firm but kind, sympathetic but very much in charge.  (There’s something androgynous about all charismatic figures,...
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2 THAILAND – Temples of the North

These Buddhist temples glitter like a fairground mirrors.  Gold everywhere.  They are fun – they’re holy but there’s also jolliness, unlike the basic sadness of Christianity and its churches.  The roofs of the main vihara or preaching hall are orange edged with blackest blue and yellow tiles, and they are not straightforward; they look as if a smaller temple has been built over by a later temple, and then a further temple, all overlapping like a house of cards.  This lets in the breeze but keeps out the rain?  All traditional buildings have this complex format. At the centre of the wat...
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