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Thai Temple art '' Singh '' The Lion

  • Lions, in stone and bronze, are common features at Khmer monuments. There were no lions in Asia except in Asia minor (now extinct) and west India. However in Thailand and Cambodia these lions are mythical solar lions. They stand guard together with the lunar mythical animal, the Naga. Their presence has a deeper meaning.
  • All these temples were devoted to Vishnu. Motives and statues complimented the architectural homage and in doing so, all had meaning. Vishnu is an Indian God, which first appeared in the ancient Vedas, the 4 books sacred to Hinduism. Vishnu took 3 steps to encompass the earth, air and heavens. These steps symbolise the sun's point of rising, its zenith and its point of setting. Vishnu has a mount, a Garuda, a rapacious looking bird, which resembles an eagle. Vishnu is also connected to the constellation Aquila, the Eagle. This constellation goes back to the days of ancient Mesopotamia and the Great Spirit Alala, in the form of an eagle. These cultures worshiped the Sun and the eagle.
  • These cultures had a belief in the eye of the Sun during the day and the eye of the constellation at night. Vishnu manifested this in the solar system of the zodiac signs as the constellation Leo and was also manifested in the lunar system under the constellation as Aquila. Vishnu is one god, the ultimate creator of time who is manifested in both the lunar and solar constellation systems, whether seen as Aquila or as Leo the lion.
  • This solar guardian is inseparable from the lunar guardian, the Naga.
  • In Lan Na the Singh is distinctive with a Burmese flair. The artisitc design can be compared to the Lion Guardians of Khmer style found in Northeast Thailand such as at Phimai and at Angkor in Cambodia. The guardian Lions in Bangkok, such as at Wat Phra Kaeow are Khmer in design.