The above picture was taken over a hundred years ago during the reign of King Rama V. Possibly one of the first tourists to explore the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Looks like the dress code for entering the grounds in those days wasn’t so strict. He is not only barefoot and wearing shorts, but he is also not wearing a shirt. This picture was taken at the eastern gate. Scroll down to see my recent picture taken at the same location. To help you get your bearings, this area is the shrine in front of the entrance to the chapel containing the Emerald Buddha. The two giants on the left guarding the gate are Virunhok and Mankorngun. They are characters from the Ramakien epic. The two lead cows were previously used in the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony. They are still in roughly the same position today.
The viharn at the back of the picture contains the Buddha image that is used for both the Royal Ploughing ceremony and the Rain Making Ceremony. In the background you can see a dome belonging to Phra Thinang Boromphiman. It was built by King Rama V in 1897–1903. It was used for accommodation for royal visitors. It isn’t open to the public today. The only objects that seem to be missing is the small statue behind the giants (possibly one of the Chinese statues now scattered around this and other temples) and the two “white giants” in front of the viharn and mondop. This is how the caption describes them. But, are they really giants?
Below is a blow-up of the two missing “white giants”. They are not like the other giants as their hairstyle is almost Buddha-like. But, the hand positions do not match any of the documented gestures of the Buddha. At first I couldn’t really work out what they were doing.
Then I found another picture which I again enlarged a small section. Now it becomes clearer that they were once holding something. Maybe a stick or a sword. Scroll back up to the two giants from the Ramakien. Almost the same though not quite. In the picture below you can confirm that the hairstyle is definitely Buddha-like. Possibly a disciple. But, I cannot find any further information. It is a mystery as these figures are no longer in the temple grounds. Maybe one day it will be solved. They must be somewhere!
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