This is the third in our series on Wat Chaisi, Wat Sanuan Wari and Wat Photaram. Wat Photaram is located in Maha Sarakham Province. Wat Photaram is located in the village of Ban Dong Ban, in the Na Dun District, in the south of Maha Sarakham Province. This wat is much farther away from Khon Kaen than Wat Chaisi and Wat Sanuan Wari.We learned about this wat while having a discussion with the leader of the Bong Beng Theatre troupe, Mr. Sombat Nyotbatum, concerning the scheduling of a nang pramo thai performance of Sinxay, set to take place in the town where he lives. Because the wat was only a ten-minute drive from his house, he recommended that we stop there. We discovered the murals at the temple were quite impressive. Like Wat Chaisi and Wat Sanuan Wari, this wat is covered with murals on all four outer walls. Unlike the other two wats, though, murals depicting scenes from Sinxay cover just one wall.
The sim rests on an approximate three-foot base of cement, and the bottom half of the wall has stylized molding painted in white. In Architecture of Thailand Nithi Sthapitanonda and Brian Mertens write that, “Important buildings such as ordination halls . . . are exalted by bases that raise them off the ground, usually in multiple layers that add height, structural complexity and decoration.”This is certainly the case with Wat Photaram, but the resulting height of the murals makes viewing them somewhat difficult.We had to lift ourselves up onto the base before we could carefully examine the murals. It was well worth it, but we wondered whether the relative height of these murals have made their impact on the laity less impressive than it could have been if they were more easily visible.
The highlight of the Sinxay murals at Wat Photaramis the portrayal of Sinxay in the kingdom of the naga.The game of chess between the hero and the naga king,Nak Valoonarat, is prominently featured; this scene is not present at any other wat. It is one of our favorite mural details. Below are three photographs of the scene showing the kingdom on Nak Valoonarat. All the photographs have been retouched to remove bird droppings, dirt, etc.