The second-floor murals inside Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at
Wat Nong Wang temple show kalam (คะลำ), an Isan word meaning “things people should not do.” Many of these social rules are about showing proper respect to those with higher status than you, but others cover safety, manners, etc. Even traditions that the modern age has made obsolete, such as #27 (because most houses now have electric lights), are still followed by some people. But as me-first attitudes arise in Thailand, many people no longer respect these rules. Thirty-two kalam were painted here so the next generation can learn them and the current generation doesn’t forget where it came from.
Thanks to the artist Kru Thammarong Kaewboran.
อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่ (Click here to read a Thai version.) (1) Women who are pregnant should not walk over a rope securing a buffalo, because if the buffalo gets startled she might get hurt. (2) Young people should not stand over a person who is older than you. (3) Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law shouldn’t stand over their fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law. (4) Women should not stand very close to monks or in a position higher than monks. (5) When urinating, monks should not stand up (they should squat), do it on trees, into water, or out in the open where they can be seen. (6) Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law shouldn’t walk beside their parents-in-law because it shows disrespect. (7) You should bow your head or crawl when walking past elders. (8) Wives should not let the end of their dress touch their husband because his knowledge of magic could fade away. It could also have a bad effect on his job. (9) Do not walk loudly while in a home. (10) Women should not wear revealing clothes in public. (11) You should not sit or stand on stairs because it is inconvenient for people to walk around you. If you do this when pregnant, your birth will be difficult. (12) You should not sit cross-legged in front of a monk or a Buddha image because it is considered impolite. (13) You should not sit higher than people who are older than you. (14) When sitting on a bed, you should not sit where people lay their heads. (15) You should not hold or handle dangerous things after you lie down to go to sleep. (16) Women should take a bath and dress appropriately before going out of their home. (17) Families should not eat at separate times and places. (18) Young people should not eat before their elders. (19) You should not spit or be impolite when eating. (20) You should not eavesdrop. (21) Women should not make themselves beautiful when their husbands are away from home. (22) Children should not play with fire. (23) You should not mistreat your belongings or they will not last a long time. (24) You should not let your farm animals go on temple grounds because they will destroy the temple’s things. (25) You should not point any weapons at another person. (26) Women should not wipe their faces with their dress because the bottom is low (like your feet) and also because someone might be able to look up it. (27) You should not sharpen your knives at night. (28) You should not clean-up at night because you might accidentally throw away something valuable or important because you didn’t see it. (29) You should not cut firewood inside the house because this will make a mess. (30) Wives and husbands should not quarrel and take advantages of each other. (31) You should not continue to work or hold metal tools during lightning. (32) You should not work at home on monk days and all special occasions so you can participate in community activities.