As we write in our book on Sinxay, “The sim at Wat Chaisi is a small structure designed to hold 21 monks. There is one entrance, and the front of the temple faces east. Murals are painted on both the inside and the outside of the sim, and most of the murals depict scenes from Sinxay. There used to be a wooden roof, but this was replaced with a more modern tile roof. The walls were designed to be thick, because they didn’t use rebar. The sandstone for the temple came from a small quarry about 30 kilometers (19 miles) away.
All the people in the Ban Sawatii village collaborated in the construction of the sim, using wooden carts pulled by water buffalo to carry the sandstone to the wat complex, making the bricks and mixing the paints, using natural dyes. The villagers were eager to work under the supervision of Luang Po On Sa, because they wanted their village to finally have their own wat, and because they believed their help would earn them good merit.
A small paperback book by Sowit Bamrungphan, titled Painting Children’s Minds, highlights the importance of the murals at Wat Chaisi and their key role in the renaissance of Sinxay in Isan. In the preface, the author says that when he first saw the paintings at Wat Chaisi he felt that his heart was being transformed, as if the murals themselves were painting his heart. He claims the paintings are a library that preserves traditional knowledge. In his book, he encourages the people of Isan to visit Wat Chaisi and see the paintings themselves, to appreciate their significance as a cultural heritage for all Isan people.”
You can see photographs of mural details from both the outer and inner walls of the sim. You can see how they’ve become so degraded over time. It is often difficult to decipher exactly what the artist was trying to portray. We hope at some point in the future to go back and work on gaining a better understanding of these murals.