Media Review: Atman by Bernd Kolb

The soul is an infinite ocean of just beautiful energy and presence made manifest in human form (Panache Desai)

Today’s media review is about Atman by Bernd Kolb (ISBN: 978-3724310570). This book was published in September 2015 by terra magica /Reich Verlag. This book is in German language, comprises 192 pages, hardcover. It costs 50 EUR and is available in the German bookselling trade and on Amazon.

Atman by Bernd Kolb

The book Atman is a picturebook which invites the reader or rather the ‘viewer’ to realize and ‘see’ Atman, the divine spark, in the extraordinary pictures that Bernd Kolb took on his journeys through Asia. Bernd Kolb is known as an internet pioneer and German entrepreneur of the year 1998. The first station in his journey was Marrakesh (2007) where he restored a traditional city palace with centuries-old methods.

Atman by Bernd Kolb, terra magica 2015

Atman by Bernd Kolb, terra magica 2015

In 2012, he went on his journey to Asia in order to find out more about traditional sources of wisdom. Hence, soon the idea for comprising the book ‘Atman’ was born. The photos are predominantly portraits of people whom he encountered during his wisdom journey through Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. However, there are also a few stunning pictures of landscapes like the Mae Hong Son province in Northern Thailand and an amazing picture of an elephant’s eye.

Padaung woman from Cambodia, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

Padaung woman from Cambodia, the Padaung belong to the tribes of the Karen who also live in Thailand, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

Atman may also be described as ‘soul’ or ‘essence of life’. In the 3000 years old Vedas, ‘Atman’ is called the divine spark in every (human) being. Thus, it can also be understood as the truth behind all appearances. Hence, the photographer tries to capture the ‘soul’ or ‘divine spark’ of his counterpart in his pictures. Thus, it is the authors aim to show that all beings are connected to each other through ‘Atman’.

A nun from Myanmar, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

A Buddhist nun from Myanmar, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

The book starts with a foreword by Jane Goodall followed by the author’s introduction in which he tells the reader about his motivation, intentions and his wisdom journey through Asia. The main part of the book consists of the photos followed by the caption in which the author tells us who the people photographed are. He tells the reader something about their story, where he met them and what they mean to him.

A dancer from Bali, Ubud in contemplation, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

A dancer from Nusa Penida, a small island near Bali, in contemplation before his performance, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

Old Soul, Bali, Ubud, Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

Old Soul, a 5 year old girl from Ubud, Indonesia Copyright (c) Bernd Kolb

I think that ‘Atman’ by Bernd Kolb offers the viewer an emotional journey to discover the ‘soul’ of human beings. Hence, the book is very inspiring and even like a meditation to me. When I look at the photos for some minutes, it seems that the pictures come alive. Bernd Kolb truly shares magical moments of presence. Thus, I can feel a connection to the people in the pictures.

In a nutshell, I find ‘Atman’ by Bernd Kolb truly precious and an amazing book. Thus, it is also a great gift for people who like photography, the extraordinary and the magical. The book invites the viewer to take his time and to dwell on the portraits and the impression that they give.

Yours, Sirinya

John Thomson: Pictures of Old Siam

“His [Thomson’s] photographic style can be perceived from the beauty of his works. Back then when all he had was natural light, he still managed to get the beautiful photographs”

(Paisarn Piemmettawat, the exhibition’s organizer’s assistant)

John Thomson: the crown prince of Siam (Rama V)

John Thomson photography: the crown prince of Siam (Rama V)

John Thomson Photography

Recently I’ve come across an interesting article in the Bangkok Post. It is about a photo exhibition of the Scot J. Thomson, born in 1837, who was one of the first photographers in the Far East.

young Siamese prince

A young Siamese prince

The National Gallery on Chao Fah Road in Bangkok now shows 60 of Thomson’s black and white photos of old Siam. These photos were taken in 1865 – 1866. The exhibition is called “Siam Through The Lens Of John Thomson”. It started on 10. January and runs until 28. February 2015. You have free entry to this exhibition.

Siamese nobleman Racha Chaya

Siamese nobleman Racha Chaya

The photographer arrived in Bangkok on 28. September 1865. Thus, the exhibition marks the 150th year since his arrival in Siam.

Siamese Buddhist bonze.

Portrait of a Siamese monk, 1865

While staying in Siam after living and travelling some other places in Asia like Ceylon and Malaysia, Thomson took photos of the King of Siam, members of the royal court but also of ordinary people. Hence, he also documented village life.

L0055805 Siamese boatman, Siam [Thailand].

A Siamese boatman with his oar.


siamese teenager with topknot

A Siamese youth with traditional topknot

What is special about Thomson is that he was the first (Western) photographer to be allowed into the Grand Palace and to take photos of King Mongkut, Rama IV. The King was very much impressed with his skill of taking photos.


King Mongkut, Rama IV, in European attire, 1865


L0055542 The 1st King of Siam, King Mongkut, in state robes, Bangkok

King Monkut in traditional Thai attire and regalia of royalty, 1865

Hence, there is a very special picture of a procession taken in front of Wat Pho because the situation was that the King called everyone to stay still so that Thomson could take photos of this event. In fact, this is a rare picture of a historical moment that displays the greatness of Thai tradition.

king of siam and procession

The king and his procession in front of Wat Pho

What is more, Thomson also took photos of the city of Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

the chao phraya river as seen from the main spire of Wat Arun

The Chaophraya river viewed from Wat Arun


The pictures in this post are all taken from the Wellcome Library, London. They also have more photos of Thomson’s travel to other parts of East Asia.

Well, the exhibition is over but there is now a new book called ‘Siam Through the Lens of John Thomson’ published by River Books. If you are interested in history, old Siam and John Thomson’s photography, I strongly recommend you check out this work 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

A tribute to Chakrabhand Posayakrit

“I like to listen to Thai music, see Khon (traditional Thai masked dance) and Lakorn (Thai dance-theatre) and read old literature.”

posayakritThe artist at work

Chakrabhand Posayakrit was born 1943 in Bangkok and can be regarded as one of the most famous and popular national artists of Thailand. In 2000, for instance, he received the title “ National Artist in Visual Arts (Painting)“.

Hence, if you search the internet for Thai art and painting, you will defintely come across this Thai National Artist’s works. In the early period of his works, he painted realistic images of people in order to express their character adequately.

Chakrabhand Posayakrit

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However, in his later works, however, the artist uses more imagination and idealizes his paintings, he also creates Thai puppets and paints scenes from classical Thai literature. In addition, he is also famous for his paintings of Buddha.

Chakrabhand Posayakrit: Paining of a Thai Puppet

Chakrabhand Posayakrit: Paining of a Thai Puppet


aaae4f748ebacd9b6f1876d0b879a293A scene from classical Thai literature 10110096Image of the reclining Buddha

3db2a1c7ad3abf6b1a25118cfd4ec6e2Painting of the enlightened Buddha

Indeed, this Thai National Artist’s paintings reveals a great interest in traditional Thai art and displays its beauty.

His work range is wide and not only incorporates paintings and drawings but also design, decorative art, puppetry and literary works which he published with the pseudonym “Sasivimol“.

I very much adore his Dioramas from Thai literature and wish I could have one myself 🙂

decorative art posayakrit

In a nutshell, I am very much impressed by Chakrabhand Posayakrit’s art works and since this kind of art is not available over here in Germany, I deceided to make a photo wall with his paintings for myself.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100My picture wall

In addition, I felt free to incorporate some of the artist’s paintings in my decoupage art works.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100This is the dance of the kinnari (The Shan Kinnari and Kinnara dance) which is the Thai Yai (Shan) bird dance. Love this picture! By the way, the Kinnari is a mythical being, half-swan and half-dancer.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100  VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100 VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100 Here are some examples of my decoupage art using Posayakrit’s paintings

If you want to learn more about this artist and painter, I suggest you check out his homepage.

The pictures on this page also come from this site.

You may also like to check out the following book ‘The Arts of Thailand’ by Steve van Beek, there you also find information about Chakrabhand Posayakrit.

Hope you enjoy reading and admiring these awesome pictures!

Yours, Sirinya