The importance of illustrations in Sinxay

The importance of illustrations in Sinxay

We are extremely proud of the images we’ve used in Sinxay. When we were thinking of what images to include in our book, we kept thinking about the following book, Illuminating the Life of the Buddha: An Illustrated Chanting Book from Eighteenth-Century Siam, written by Naomi Appleton, Sarah Shaw and Toshiba Unebe. In one of Sarah Shaw’s essays she writes:

“In temple art Jātaka depictions can be far more varied and full of incident than those in manuscripts.There is simply more room on awall for extensive depiction of a number of scenes froma single, often intricate story, sometimes arranged chronologically, but often in a non-linear succession . . . Their presence (in a manuscript), however, is like bringing a sense of the temple to the space of a manuscript.”

This we decided is what we waned to try to accomplish, to bring a sense of the temple to our book on Sinxay. Were we successful? Read the following pull-out quotes from some of the reviews of Sinxay and decide for yourself!

One of the most striking things about this volume is the images. They are everywhere! The retelling of the story itself benefits from a variety of illustrations, and each of the four commentarial chapters makes use of photographs and other visual aids. There is a wonderful mixture: photographs show us everything from temples to lampposts that portray the heroes and their adventures, while specially commissioned illustrations, including gorgeous maps of the landscape of the story, are vivid and enchanting. It is such a visual feast. – Naomi Appleton, Chancellor’s Fellow in Religious Studies, University of Edinburgh


Words are only part of the story. There are pictures too, lots of them. A prominent Vientiane artist, Khamla Phanyasith, has contributed a series of paintings on the tale. An American illustrator, Nick Bowen, has imagined some of the key scenes in a graphic modern style, and also carefully redrawn scenes from temple murals in order to eliminate the deterioration of age. In addition there is Peter Whittlesey’s very fine photography of temples, murals, door panels, statuary, textiles, landscape, and public art from all over Laos and Isan. It’s a very graphic and beautiful book.  —  Chris Baker, editor, Journal of the Siam Society


“Their book is not only cogently written, it is also beautifully illustrated with a combination of commissioned paintings, enhanced temple murals and creative photography.: — Dr. Eric Crystal, Vice-Chair, Center for Southeast Asia Studies. U.C. Berkeley (Ret.)


“What makes this book an especially lively and timely contribution are the fabulous illustrations. The photos by the authors and the paintings by several artists are outstanding, and they enhance the graceful and animated story that the authors have carefully crafted.”   — Ellison Findly, Religious Dept. Chair, Trinity College


“The book would be an attractive coffee table piece for any book lover.”   — Daniel Lewis, Retired journal editor


“SINXAY is a rich and lavish book. It is a treasure chest: a fabled and complex heroic story, the story-behind-the-story, and the story-after-the-story. Besides the shiny gold of the tale itself, there are bright gems in photographs, maps, illustrations old and new, and examples of the story and its players as found in murals, carvings, and statues.”  – Marke Blue, Singer, songwriter, photographer


“My heartfelt gratitude is sent to the authors for bringing Sinxay to us—the/ excellence with which the translation was done; the commitment to provide beautiful illustrations, artwork, and photos; and the detailed maps and explanations to help the reader are incredible.” – Joni Wilson, editor


“The story is gorgeously presented in a colorful tome full of beautiful illustrations and photographs, which is obviously the fruit borne of a passion for the story of Sinxay by the authors.” – Capt. Bill Collier, Air America Pilot during the Secret War


“The plentiful beautiful color illustrations brought to life the story and culture of the setting. The quality of the photographs of actual temple artwork with captions gave depth and a sense of Lao-Thai history.” – Barry Calfee, Follett Books


We will soon write a post featuring our American illustrator, Nick Bowen, who painted Sinxay below. We couldn’t be happier with his work for Sinxay.

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