The Thai Human Imagery Museum
The Thai Human Imagery Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์หุ่นขี้ผึ้งไทย) is the first museum of fibreglass models in Thailand. It is located in Nakhon Chaisi, Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand. In fact, it is not exactly a wax museum since the models are all created from fiberglass. The reason for this is the hot tropical climate of Thailand. All models look amazingly authentic in every part of their bodies, including skin, limbs, eyes and even hair.
Thai Human Imagery Museum
The figures mainly depict scenes from Thai life and culture from past to present. For instance, there are representations of the daily life of farm labourers, slaves, gamblers and even a man reading a Thai newspaper. What is more, there are various Thai history sets. Among them are for example the Chakri Dynasty Kings. Furthermore, there are models of famous enlightened monks, poets, politicians, aristocrats and artists. In addition, some prominent foreigners of history can also be found there, among them for instance Mahatma Gandhi.
This museum was created by artist Duangkaew Phityakornsilp and a group of Thai artists. They spent more than ten years creating the life-like fibreglass figures. Their aim was to promote and conserve Thai tradition, art and culture (‘Thainess’) for future generations. Thus, I would like to focus on some highlights of the exhibition.
These are the Royal Images of Chakri Dynasty King Rama I – VIII. The first King, Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, who was the first Chakri Dynasty King, established Bangkok as the capital city of Thailand in 1782.
In 1868, Chulalongkorn was coronated at the age of 15. He was determined to abolish slavery. Hence, King Chulalongkorn bought a number of slaves with his own money and set them free as gesture of goodwill so that his subjects might follow his example. Thus in 1905, he declared the end of slavery in Thailand. It took 37 years to achieve this noble aim.
The museum also introduces traditional Thai games. Thailand is known for many games such as the famous Manohra Play, Kite Flying, Post Seizing Monkeys (Ling Ching Lak) and Fish Entering Net (Plaa Long Uan) which date back to the Sukhothai period. Among the young, these games are still popular even today. Additionally, the museum presents four sets of Thai traditional children’s games which are called a’ree-ree khao sarn’, ‘maeng mum’, ‘cham chee’ and ‘khee chang chon kan’.
There are also traditional Thai games for adults such as ‘Bald Head Smashing’ (“Hua Larn Chon Kan”). This game is very old and recorded in the “Sumudkhot Kham Chand”, a noted Thai literary piece from the age of King Narai.
However, the museum is also concerned with arts. For instance, you find there a figure of the famous musician Khru Ee-ah Sunthornsanan. He was the first leader of the Musical Group of the Publicity Department. His songs became very popular by the name of “Suntharaporn”.
Summing up, we may claim that the Thai Human Imagery Museum can be compared to Madame Tussauds. However, it is less concerned with popular than with traditional culture and with preserving and presenting Thainess 🙂
*photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram@knack66