to the Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand, a wonderland of temples, courts, and
in 1782 by Rama I when the capital was moved from Thonburi to
Here are lessons in guardian
nature spirits. No study of human ecology would be complete without
understanding how cultures view animals in religious and ceremonial
contexts. Here on the Palace grounds are spectacular examples of
guardian spirits -- real or imagined animals with anthropogenic features and
This immense statue is a yaksha
(sometimes spelled yaksa, or in Thai yak), which in Hindu,
Buddhist, and Jain mythology is a general class of usually benevolent
nature spirits that guard important locations, especially natural
some interpretations, yakshas are half human and half demon and guard gods
a pair of yakshas guard one of the many Grand Palace temples.
Here to the right, and also in
this week's main photo (top above), are depictions of kinnaras (male;
the female is kinnari).
In southeast Asia, kinnaras are
half human and half bird, and variously represent love, dance, grace, poetry,
They often grace temples in
Thailand and Cambodia.
This yaksha guards
the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where a small piece of the Buddha's
breastbone supposedly is
in this temple is the Emerald
Buddha, an ancient, small green statue carved from jade.
These yaksha statues are apparently
supporting the base
structure of Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn (the Royal Pantheon).
wonder if anyone has drawn the parallel between the above
supporting statues, and those sometimes found
in carvings in ancient Mayan temples and citadels
in the New World tropics!
example, here is a photo I took of what has been
called "Atlantean dwarfs" that adorn
support a basalt alter in Old Chichen
on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico:
similar forms are found throughout ancient
another example, here are similar carvings of
dwarfs supporting Monument 2 at
Potrero Nuevo in Veracruz, Mexico:
the similarity with the yakshas in the
Grand Palace in Bangkok is mere coincidence
or holds some deeper significance of a common
human interpretation of nature spirits and
of our place in the natural world,
I do not know.