Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buddhas Bought and Sold

Men haul a Buddha statue out to a waiting delivery truck on Bamrung Muang Street in Bangkok.

Bamrung Muang Street in the old part of Bangkok is one of my regular haunts. It's one of the oldest streets in the city - it was originally an elephant trail from the provinces to the Royal Palace - and one of the first paved roads in Bangkok. 

It's where Buddhist religious paraphernalia is bought and sold. Big and small statues of the Buddha. Statues of revered Thai Kings, like King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn. Statues of Hindu and Brahmin deities like Shiva and Ganesh (also revered in Thai Buddhism) can all be bought here. Some small enough for bedside table, others so large they require their own room. I call it Bangkok's Street of Many Buddhas. 

But it's not just statues that are sold along Th Bamrung Muang (Th is the abbreviation for Thanon, the Thai word for street or road), you can also buy monk's robes, alms bowls, candles, incense or pretty much anything you would need for a Buddhist observance. Workshops along the street apply the finishing touches to the statuary while workers apply the final touch ups and details to the statues on the street in front of the showrooms. 

I like photographing the street because it's an always changing kaleidoscope of Bangkok life. Even on cloudy days, like yesterday, the photography is good. You're dealing with a lot of saturated colors - yellows and golds and reds - and a lot of the photography is in the shade, either in small sois or storefronts, so the clouds help control otherwise nasty contrast. 

The street photography along Th Bamrung Muang is right up my alley (so to speak). Almost all of it is done with short lenses, from my 24mm lens to my 50mm lens. On my Lumix GX1, I used mostly my 20mm lens (equal to a 40mm on the Canons) or my 14mm lens (28mm on the Canons). 

Every experience is different, no matter how often I go down to the Street of Many Buddhas. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive, and almost all of the photos  from Southeast Asia, are available for editorial licensing or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you like, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the on screen prompts. 

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