Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Wat Bo: South Wall, Lower Register

South wall, lower register                                                                              
This register must be read from left to right.

The panel depicts Rama releasing the Phrommat arrow sharply cutting the head of Kumbhakarna sending his soul to heaven. Curiously, the painter has shown his dead body in the air in the pose of mediation, while his head is in the blue sky, transfixed by Rama’s arrow. Below is depicted a powerful Hanuman with four arms entangled with yak warriors.

Indrajit was requesting to his father, Ravana permission to go out and fight He is shown riding his chariot pulled by a blue reacheasei.

Lakshmana and his monkey’s troop goes out trying to defeat Indrajit. In the meantime, Indrajit, seeing that he was unable to defeat Lakshmana, retired to perform a meditative ritual to gain more power. 

Together with his soldiers, Indrajit went to fight Lakshmana, riding in his chariot pulled by a white horse, Laksmana goes to confront Indrajit. 

To meditate Indrajit went inside a hollow tree to practice asceticism in order to
empower his arrow, the nagaba.  On the mural he is designed in a layout of complete
symmetry suggesting a yogic state.

Ravana planned another trick to demoralize Rama. He ordered one of his slave-man to transform into a beautiful girl, Benjakay. Pretending to be the dead Sita she was thrown into the river floating, passing  by Rama’s camp. Rama was fooled into believing she was the real  Sita, recovered her and held the dead body in his arm (right). Hanuman noticing that the body had floated magically upstream, suspected a treks. He put Benyakay in irons and then asked to cremate the body. When the fire touched her body (center) Benyaka came alive suddenly and tried to escape. Hanuman grabbed her as she tried to fly away (top right).

Detail of Benyakai sitting on the ground, a prisoner, with her neck and feet in irons, tormented by small monkeys. Hanuman took her back to Lanka by flying over the clouds (top part of panel), later making love to her.
It was essential for Rama to put an end to the meditation of Indrajit in order to stop him from gaining even more power. To accomplish this task, Champhuwarat, one of Rama’s monkey warriors, transformed into a bear and went to interrupt the ceremony (orange background).  Indrajit had already obtained enough magic to transform the arrow into nagabats  (arrows that magically transformed, once thron, into powerful snakes)  the use of which is illustrated in the following panel. Meanwhile, Hanuman was busy strangling more yaks (shown below Indrajit on the mural).

Indrajit, hidden in the clouds (not on this panel), shot the nagabat arrow that with hundreds of snakes  made prisoners Lakshmana, together with Hanuman, Sugriva, and Angada, as clearly shown on the mural (Fig.9b.S.)(Lower section). Rama, who was not at the battlefield at the time, was called by Vibhishana and, on the advice of the latter, shot an arrow(Fig.9b.S.) to call his good friend Garuda, great enemy of the nagas (top left). Garuda having received the arrow-message(Fig.9d.S.), left his palace and flew down to free all the prisoners by tearing apart the nagas with his sharp beak (Fig 9c.S.upper right).

The next mural represents Kampan, a yak of rank, standing on an elephant with his mahout, who was sent to fight Lakshmana, while Indrajit went to empower another arrow. Hanuman and his monkeys attacked Kampan and the yak soldiers. 
Indrajit presenting himself in the battlefield after having taken the semblance of Indra riding on the three-headed elephant, Airavata ; his soldiers were transformed into angels and dancing girls to deceive Lakshmana and his army. He soon successfully attacked Laksmana. 
Indrajit again hidden in clouds, wounded Lakshmana gravely with his magic arrow. Lakshmana is shown on a chariot with Hanuman noticing that the javelin had penetrated deep in the prince’s chest, to the horror of the monkeys below (Fig.12b,S.). 
Indrajit was attacked by Hanuman, who leapt upon the heads of Airavata while Indrajit hit him with his bow. 
The next panel depicts when Ravana decided to distraught Sita by sending her to the battlefield on bard o the magic chariot (Bosobock). She saw Rama and Laksmana lifeless on the ground, penetrate by an arrow that transformed into a tree. Sita sits in the chariot Looking upset, she brought her hand to the head (on blue background), in a gesture of desperation. The left she could see Lakshmana penetrated by the magic arrow transformed into a growing tree. The same she could see to the right as well; as Hanuman squashed under the Airavata elephant (Fig.15d.S.). However, her companion reminded her that the vehicle she was riding would not fly with a widow aboard, so Sita knows that Rama is not dead.
The seriously wounding of Lakshmana is painted on the following episode
The top left part of this picture shows Hanuman in a mountain cave where the herbs were located but protected by an eternally spinning discus (chakra) and two guardian-angels.  When Hanuman reached the cave, he was struck by a chakra, but the angels took him back to life, and, although not depicted, allowing him to carry the entire mountain back to the battlefield. Hanuman also had to collect the semen of the king of the oxen (incomplete, lower left part of panel) needed by Vibhisana for his medicinal concoction

Lakshmana shooting the thousand-in-one Poan arrow at Indrajit which weakened him to the point that, defeated and deprived of magic weapons, he (Indrajit) had to return to his mother in the royal palace to be comforted by some milk from her breast (right side
of picture). On the mural, Indrajit is depicted in the arms of his mother, with many arrows sticking out of his back, suckling some milk from her breast.
The battle continued, with Rama fighting again amongst a pell-mell of monkeys (Fig. 149 S), and some very aggressive , on the last panel of the Wat Bo narrative, to the extreme right of the wall, Rama, with Lakshmana at his side, is shown releasing the powerful arrow that killed Indrajit, severing his head.

Detail of Angada flying quickly to collect with a precious goblet the severed head of Indrajit (top right of picture) because if the head felt on the ground, the Earth would be destroyed. 
Note, on the captions it is written that it is Rama who kills Indrajit, following the narrative of Sbek Thom. In the Ramakien and Reamker, it is Lakshmana who kills Indrajit (Rama I, Volume 3, 1; Jacobs 10.8-9).

The End

Bangkok, February-March 2017

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