Monday, February 9, 2015

Casting the Wat's New Buddha Statue - Day #3 But Not the End

People Retrieving Bronze Casting Splatter
Duang and I returned to Wat Ban Maet at 7:50 A.M. for the 8:00 A.M. scheduled start of the activities related to the new bronze Buddha statue for the sala.  We had asked about the time, confirmed the time, verified and re-verified the start time with the casting crew the previous afternoon upon completion of pouring the bronze.

I anticipated witnessing and photographing the removal of the plaster casting mold, rigging of the statue into place, and polishing of the statue.

As we pulled into the parking area at the Wat, Duang's often spoken words echoed in my head ... "Thailand not same Amireeka".  Although it was not quite 8:00 A.M., the large off-white plaster mold was no longer standing in the center of the casting area.  The plaster cast was located next to the larger beige cast that was bound for Loei, 4 hours to the west.

Some of the local people were scavenging small pieces of bronze splatter from the previous afternoon's casting operation.  No doubt these objects would be incorporated into home shrines or worn in conjunction with amulets to take advantage of their mystical powers.

Local People Removing the Casting Mold From Statue Arm
As the casting crew occupied themselves with breaking camp and loading up their flatbed truck for the next casting site in Loei, another group of local people removed the hard plaster casting mold from the two hands of the statue.  Typically statues are cast in sections because of complexity and delicacy of certain parts.

Cast Bronze Hand Still Wrapped In Mold Reinforcing Steel
Duang checked with the casting crew and determined that they along with the new statue were travelling to Loei for four days to cast the bigger statue.  They then would take a full day to drive back to their factory in Chonburi.

In Chonburi, the molds would be removed from around the statues, the statues would then be ground to remove imperfections and remove any remnants of the casting process, arms and other delicate features would be attached, and the statues highly polished along with a final coating applied.  In about two weeks the completed statues would be delivered and installed at their respective Wats.  I am fairly certain that there will be a special ritual for setting the statue inside of the sala - which we may or may not be able to witness - not for the lack of trying but more likely the miscommunication of timing.

Clarity in communicating time is complicated by the differences in telling time in Thai and telling time in English.  In English time is typically broken into two 12 hour clocks with the time being differentiated by A.M. and P.M. example: 5:00 A.M (morning) and 5:00 P.M. (afternoon, night). Military time, one 24 hour clock, eliminates the need to differentiate between A.M. and P.M. or day and night example: 0500 and 1700.

In Thai, there are 4 clocks of 6 hours each for a day. The first clock of the day is from 12 midnight to 5:00 A.M. These hours are named:  Tiang keun (midnight), dtee neung, dtee song, dtee saam, dtee see, and dtee haa - except for midnight, "dtee" followed by the Thai name for the numbers 1,2,3,4, or 5 - OK, a little different but manageable in my opinion.

6:00 morning - is Hok Mohng (6 o'clock) or Hok Mohng Cao (6 o,clock morning) - Still manageable ...for me.

However the time from 7 to 11 A.M. is where the confusion starts.  The second clock of the day in Thai kicks in at 7:00 - jet mohng chao (7 o'clock morning) OR neung mohng chao (one o'clock in the morning), 8:00 under the Thia method can be referred to as song mohng chao (two o'clock in the morning)

Often Duang has told me that we needed to go somewhere or do something at see mohng cao "4 o'clock in the morning" rather than the western terminology of 10:00 A.M. - talk about some confusion!

The potential for confusion includes the hours 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. with the Thai time being 7:00 P.M. - tum neung or neung tum (one o'clock), 8:00 P.M. - song tum (two o'clock) - Yes, Duang has caused me some adrenalin rushes telling me things using this Thai method for telling time!

Other people were busy dismantling the offering table used for the previous day's ritual.  As we were leaving, one of the women came over and gave us two of the watermelons that had been offered to the spirits.  After getting permission, Duang removed two of the scallop shell wind chimes that had hung at the entry to the casting area.  The wind chimes now hang outside of our home.  "Good for us, good for house"  Good for Duang - she hung them so that they do not work - I can't stand the sound of wind chimes!

Hand Painted Gable of the New Sala

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