9 April 2013
Warriors and lovers
“Love and war are the same thing, and stratagems and policy are as allowable in the one as in the other.”
– Miguel de Cervantes, in Don Quixote, Part II, Book III, Chapter 21 (full text in English)
Yakshas. They stand, tall – very tall, they are more than eight metres high –, massive, terrifying with their protruding fangs – those long upward external teeth –, imposing with their clubs as they guard the gates of the temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. But, after closer inspection, those ogres, also called yaks in Thai, tend to resemble multi-coloured clowns, as if coming straight out of an anachronistic theme park. Sure enough, I’d tremble if they started to move so I won’t mock them too much.
The temple of the Emerald Buddha, also known as Wat Phra Kaew, also hosts more friendly gilded creatures, half-human half-bird, symbols of love and feminine beauty. Kinnari, for they are thus called, can therefore fly between human and mystical worlds.
As mentioned previously, Hindu influence is vividly felt as yakshas and kinnari are also present in Hindu mythology. Surprisingly enough, for one would perhaps naturally associate war with males and beauty with females, both creatures have their opposite-gender counterparts: female Yakshini, which are beautiful and voluptuous fairies, and Kinnon, also half-bird half-human although not always gilded – but I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the wide-hipped, narrow-waisted and excessively-breasted Yakshini during my Thai peregrinations. Alas.