22 December 2012
Entrapped Buddha head
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together:
our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not;
and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our own virtues.
– William Shakespeare, in All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene 3 (full text).
This sandstone Buddha head is entrapped in the roots of a tree in Ayutthaya (in central Thailand), capital of the Siam kingdom between 1350 and 1767 when it was destroyed by the Burmese army.
While the rest of Wat Phra Mahathat ("wat" means monastery temple in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia – you probably heard of Angkor Wat) displays numerous headless Buddha statues, this one has lost its body. Was it abandoned after the Burmese sacked the city, trees then growing around it? Or did thieves try to steal it, giving up because it was too heavy? I love how the face expresses a sneaky smile, imagining vain attempts to displace it.