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Photographer's Note

The Ramayana, which can be translated from the original Sanskrit as the glory of Rama' tells the story of a mythical Prince Rama who appears in the tale as an incarnation the Hindu god Vishnu. Scholars debate how the Ramayana reached Thailand, but influ­ences of the tale are found in bas-relief sculpture as early as he 13th century. Indeed the Thai king credited with developing the Thai writing system took his royal appellation from the tale.

It was, however, the current Dynasty that truly elevated the Ramakien to a Thai national epic and art form. Ramakien is liter­ally, the worship of Rama in Thai. The work in verse commissioned and supervised by the new king, now' known as Rama I (reigned 1782-1809) was completed in 1798. It was twice the length of the Ramayana of Valmiki, and included references to the flora, fauna, geog­raphy and social customs of Thailand. This literary endeavor marks the transition from an Indian art form used in Thailand to a truly local creation. To enhance its popularity among the general population even further, the tale emphasized humorous and amorous behavior on the part of Hanuman, Rama's monkey warrior. The tragic ending of the original story was changed to allow Rama and his faithful wife to live, after many trials and tribulations, happily ever after.

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Additional Photos by Pat Lim (plimrn) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4015 W: 227 N: 6735] (21344)
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