CultureTemples

Mural Paintings of “Kalam” at Wat Nong Wang

Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang (วัดหนองแวง) is Khon Kaen's one must-see. Each of the nine floors has something on display. One of my favorite things there are the murals on the second floor which 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 Kawboran.  อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่

Buddhist temple mural painting of woman stepping over a rope securing a buffalo.
(1) Women who are pregnant should not walk over a rope securing a buffalo, because if the buffalo gets startled she might get hurt.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people relaxing next to their home.
(2) Young people should not stand over a person who is older than you.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people in their home.
(3) Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law shouldn't stand over their fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law.
Buddhist temple mural painting of a monk at somebody's home.
(4) Women should not stand very close to monks or in a position higher than monks.
Buddhist temple mural painting of monk peeing on a tree.
(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.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people walking.
(6) Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law shouldn’t walk beside their parents-in-law because it shows disrespect.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people sitting around a fire.
(7) You should bow your head or crawl when walking past elders.
Buddhist temple mural painting of woman walking past a man and her dress brushes him.
(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.
Buddhist temple mural painting of woman preparing silk thread.
(9) Do not walk loudly while in a home.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people outside their home.
(10) Women should not wear revealing clothes in public.
Buddhist temple mural painting of family outside their home.
(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.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people sitting in front of a monk.
(12) You should not sit cross-legged in front of a monk or a Buddha image because it is considered impolite.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people sitting and chatting.
(13) You should not sit higher than people who are older than you.
Buddhist temple mural painting of grandma and grandchildren.
(14) When sitting on a bed, you should not sit where people lay their heads.
Buddhist temple mural painting of man holding a sword in bed.
(15) You should not hold or handle dangerous things after you lie down to go to sleep.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people carrying and drinking water.
(16) Women should take a bath and dress appropriately before going out of their home.
Buddhist temple mural painting of family eating at home.
(17) Families should not eat at separate times and places.
Buddhist temple mural painting of children eating.
(18) Young people should not eat before their elders.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people eating.
(19) You should not spit or be impolite when eating.
Buddhist temple mural painting of woman tying a mut mee silk pattern.
(20) You should not eavesdrop.
Buddhist temple mural painting of woman thinking about her husband.
(21) Women should not make themselves beautiful when their husbands are away from home.
Buddhist temple mural painting of children playing with fire.
(22) Children should not play with fire.
Buddhist temple mural painting of man throwing a basket on the floor of his house.
(23) You should not mistreat your belongings or they will not last a long time.
Buddhist temple mural painting of cows at a temple.
(24) You should not let your farm animals go on temple grounds because they will destroy the temple's things.
Buddhist temple mural painting of man pointing a gun at a person.
(25) You should not point any weapons at another person.
Buddhist temple mural painting of people in a village.
(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.
Buddhist temple mural painting of man sharpening a knife.
(27) You should not sharpen your knives at night.
Buddhist temple mural painting of woman sweeping the floor.
(28) You should not clean-up at night because you might accidentally throw away something valuable or important because you didn't see it.
Buddhist temple mural painting of man carrying wood.
(29) You should not cut firewood inside the house because this will make a mess.
Buddhist temple mural painting of working in a rice field.
(30) Wives and husbands should not quarrel and take advantages of each other.
Buddhist temple mural painting of workers in a rice field and a lightning strike.
(31) You should not continue to work or hold metal tools during lightning.
Buddhist temple mural painting of women working at home in a village.
(32) You should not work at home on monk days and all special occasions so you can participate in community activities.

 

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