Lampang is one of the regions of the North renowned for
its classic Lanna heritage. The people of the province maintain their
simple, traditional lifestyle and consequently much of what can be seen in
Lampang has remained unchanged for centuries.
Buddha image in Wat Baan Ko revered by villagers.
The lovely old temples, many of them of great antiquity,
along with the traditional domestic and civic architecture, the horse and
cart mode of transportation, the elephant camps, the earthenware utensils
and the heritage sites all combine to make Lampang a well known tourist
Poo Paw Ootnoon, or Nan Kham Paw, the painter.
Withi Panichapan, Faculty of Fine Art lecturer at Chiang
Mai University, has traveled throughout the North pursuing his love of Lanna
art and architecture and his deep interest in conservation.
Twenty years ago he surveyed an area from Chiang Mai to
Tambon Wang Tai in Wang Nuae district, Lampang, covering a distance of 100
kilometers. At Baan Ko village he found a temple a century or more old, the
center of the local community. To Withi’s amazement a mural within the
building reproduces in fine detail the lives of people during the Lanna era.
The mural was painted by an artist named Luang Poo Paw
Ootnoon, or Nan Kham Paw. Phra Kroo Tha Worn Worarak, the temple’s present
abbot, says the painter lived at Baan Sop Lee and worked as an artist along
the northern side of the Wang River. He liked to drink and because of a
broken heart he entered the monkhood, although he still liked to wander and
did not stay permanently anywhere. He loved to paint Lord Buddha pictures
and stories of former incarnations of the Buddha, adding small visual jokes
of his own and also depicting the local lifestyle. He painted on the walls
of the temple a hundred years ago without knowing his work would become a
precious heritage of a new era.
Kroo Tha Worn Worarak is the abbot taking care of the temple at present.
What makes the mural paintings at Wat Baan Ko so
different to others is the detail and understanding of the ordinary people
of that period. Their lifestyle, culture and beliefs are depicted in a
series of linked scenes.
The pictures were drawn simply and with the use of
natural colors. They illustrate the history of Lord Buddha, scenes from Thai
epic poetry influenced by the Ramayana of India, and visions of Hell
designed to encourage people not to act badly towards others.
The villagers have done their best to conserve the paintings over the
years but inevitably time and the climate have taken their toll. Withi’s
discovery of the murals two decades ago was an important factor in their
preservation, and now a donation from the US Ambassador’s Fund for
Cultural Preservation will secure the future of these marvelous paintings
and the temple that houses them.
epic poetry influenced by the Ramayana of India.
Sumen mountain picture, an image of Phra Wet Sandorn incarnation of the
of monks and novices in the past who lived in that temple.
building has just been set up.
Panichapan takes visitors sight seeing.
stairs at front of the temple.
building constructed in a hundred percent Lanna architecture.
at front of the entrance that obscure old statues.
ancient temple drum.