This is the second post in a series on three wats in Isan that feature Sinxay murals. We have included many of the mural details from Wat Chaisi, Wat Sanuan Wari and Wat Photaram as illustrations for our retelling of Sinxay. We also have photos of the murals from these three wats in our third chapter on Isan, Thailand.
The sim at Wat Sanuan Wari, is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Khon Kaen, and is covered with murals inside and outside like those at Wat Chaisi and Wat Photaram. While the exterior walls of Wat Sanuan Wari are covered primarily with scenes from Sinxay, the interior walls are devoted exclusively to the Vessantara Jātaka. The murals at Wat Sanuan Wari, while relatively few in number (compared to Wat Chaisi!), excel in their stylistic portrayal of scenes and characters from Sinxay, and they are often the ones chosen to accompany articles or writings about Sinxay. This is especially true for Siho, where the illustrations on the temple wall have been used to create three dimensional figures that are used as finials on lampposts in the municipality of Khon Kaen and as guardians for the lak muang (city pillar). Below this paragraph is a gallery of three photos that shows the representation of Siho in the murals, Siho as a finial and Siho as the guardians for the lak muang.
Below is a gallery of images showing various mural details from Wat Sanuan Wari:
For their use as illustrations in the book, we made the decision that most of the mural details needed to be redrawn so our readers can see the mural details as they might have looked when the artists first drew them. They are all incredible works of folk art, and even in their current state create a sense of awe when seen firsthand. But viewing the mural details in a book is not the same as viewing them on the walls of the temple, and in the context of this book we believe the redrawing dramatically improves the individual storytelling power of each image. We have been careful to ensure that while the images have been redrawn they haven’t been outright manipulated.We are not trying to deceive anyone, just create the best viewing experience for our readers.
Larry Hackett, editor in chief of People tells his photo editors that to remember the purpose of retouching is not to alter reality, just to make the subject matter “sweeter.” We agree and give you the opportunity to decide for yourself.