During our recent visit to Chiang Rai, we went to Chalermchai Kostipipat’s White Temple — see https://khunkurt.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/white-temple/ — and to Thawan Duchanee’s Black House (Baan Si Dum). Both the White Temple and the Black House are privately financed projects that are being developed under the direction of two wealthy Thai artists. Unlike Chalermchai’s religious White Temple, the Black House is purely secular. It is also a bit off the beaten track, so there were not the large number of visitors and tourists that there were at the White Temple.
The Black House is truly an estate that has many, many houses and buildings ranging from the main, temple-like structure (top right below), to traditional, Lanna style buildings found throughout Northern Thailand (second row below), to a large, whimsical, fish-shaped building. While most of the buildings are painted predominantly black, there is also a lot of natural wood, and even a few buildings, like the chedi-like structures pictured below, that are white.
In the pictures above, you might have noticed that some of the buildings are built on stilts. This is very common in Thailand for a couple of reasons. First, the buildings are kept cooler in the hot temperatures since air can circulate around the structure. Second, during the rainy season, water can flow beneath the house without flooding the residence itself. The area under the house is often used for storage (wood for cooking) and as a place to keep animals.
Thawan Duchanee (left) was awarded the title of National Artist by the National Culture Commission of Thailand in 2001. The buildings on the estate are his home, his workshop, and store houses filled with raw materials and finished works of the 72 year-old artist. In his art, Duchanee makes extensive use of horns, skins, hides, shells, and animal skulls. For my friends in Buffalo, the displays are pretty much like those that you see at Don’s house, although, unlike Don, I doubt if Thawan killed all these animals himself!
On a more serious note, Theresa flew out of Bangkok early this morning to see her mother who was taken to the hospital on Thursday. Please keep them both in your prayers.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2011 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.