Ref. Number: J010

Country: Thailand

Material: Wood

Left Eave brackets

Left Eave brackets

The curved and flaring roof-line, so typical of traditional Thai buildings, serves two practical functions that are quite necessary in this tropical country: its height helps dissipate heat through convection; its shape copes well with heavy monsoon rains. The pitch begins very steeply close to the ridge, then becomes more shallow lower down to sluice the water out and away from the building you have to experience a full tropical downpour to appreciate how well this design works. Not only does the roof itself curve gently, but there are usually also tow or three distinct sections, each at a different pitch.

Right eave bracket

Right eave bracket

The lower roof projects some distance from the walls: this not only deposits the rain away from the foundations, but it also shelters anyone walking around the building. There are two possible structural solutions for these overhanging roofs. One is to build a surround of pillars, effectively creating a gallery on all four sides. This was a feature of large buildings in the Ayutthaya period, and later in the reign of King Rama III, such as in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.This is, however, a costly and space-filling answer, and necessary only in substantial structures. For a more modestly sized building, a neater solution is bracket attached to the wall; this is what you can see on monastery buildings.

Hanuman

Hanuman

Traditional Thai houses from the Central Plains tend to use a plain bracket, often a pole sloping outwards from the balcony to the eave, but in religious architecture, the eave bracket has been transformed into a symbolic form in its own right, and a focus of artistic expression. The role they play lies somewhere between an independent piece of wood-carving art and an architect’s structural device, and in some cases they have evolved to be primarily secretive, whit the horizontal beam above doing the real work.

Hanuman

Hanuman

The most common motifs are the kanok vegetal design and the large family of floral shapes, and the naga that we have just seen gracing roofs and entrances. In this very special pair of eave bracket, the monkey god Hanuman.

Hanuman’s initial words highly impressed Rama, and made him comment: “None can talk this way without mastering the Vedas. He has such a flawless countenance, a wonderful accent, and a captivating way of speaking. He has the ability to move even an enemy…” After he revealed his identity as the prince of Ayodhya, Hanuman fell prostrate before him in respect of the Lord.

Detail

Detail

Rama picked him up and embraced him. There began the story of Hanuman, which is inextricably interwoven with Rama. To cut the long story of Hanuman short, he then introduced Rama to Sugriva, and began his massive search for Sita. Finding out her whereabouts, he consoled Sita, and burnt down the city of Lanka. Hanuman then brought Rama to Lanka, fought the battle against Ravana with his simian army, and vanquished the demons. Hanuman’s greatest feat was saving the life of Lakshmana by fetching the life-giving herb “Sanjivani” from the Himalayas. He flew fast towards the Himalayas, but unable to recognise the right herb, picked up the whole mountain on his hand and flew back to Lanka, just in time to save Lakshmana. Thereafter Hanuman served Rama forever.

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