BANGKOK - Traditional artworks are being prepared in the Thai capital to decorate the royal crematorium for Thailand's late King Bhumibol's cremation ceremony scheduled on Oct. 26.
Around 40-50 artists, working for as long as 12 hours a day, are toiling away at shaping clay and painting sculpted pieces and are nearing completion, according to an epa journalist documenting the cremation ceremony preparation work at Bangkok's Sanam Luang open field close to the Grand Palace.
Traditional sculptors from the Office of Traditional Arts, art students and volunteers are working against time to create artworks that depict several animals such as elephants, horses, cows and lions - the four holy animals in the Hindu tradition - as well as the mythical naga (snake) , kinnara (a half-human, half-horse creature) and garuda (bird-like creature) as decorative items on the royal crematorium.
These artworks will be part of the artists' depiction of the mythical Himavanta forest, a forest which surrounds the base of Mount Meru, a sacred imagined landscape in the Hindu cosmos. The crematorium symbolizes Mount Meru.
Prasopsuk Ratmai, head sculptor, told EFE the artworks are inspired by the myth of Mount Meru, a metaphysical and spiritual world where souls ascend to live among the gods.
"We depict four holy animals, elephant, horse, cow and lion. These four animals live in different separate areas of the Himavanta, as well as the hybrid and other holy creatures, according to the mythology," Prasopsuk explained.
Sanam Luang is Thailand's traditional cremation ground for the royals, created at the founding of Bangkok 235 years ago.