Su­per­heroes at tem­ples

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel -

SU­PER­HEROES are com­ing to the res­cue of Thai­land's tem­ples, where monks have com­mis­sioned giant stat­ues of comic book icons and toy ro­bots to en­ter­tain chil­dren while par­ents do­nate to their cof­fers.

In­stead of the tra­di­tional tran­quil Bud­dhas and myth­i­cal beasts, the shimmering Wat Ta Kien tem­ple out­side Bangkok is guarded by three tow­er­ing Trans­former ro­bots.

The enor­mous and in­tri­cate sculp­tures, made from bits of scrap metal and painted bright or­ange, yel­low and blue, “have no spir­i­tual pur­pose”, ex­plained monk Pra Vichien.

“It's for chil­dren so they won't get bored when they come to the tem­ple with their par­ents,” he said.

Other tem­ples are fol­low­ing suit as monas­ter­ies com­pete for vis­i­tors and keep do­na­tions flow­ing.

At least four Bud­dhist tem­ples across Thai­land and a med­i­ta­tion cen­tre have bought su­per­hero stat­ues, ac­cord­ing to Pairoj Thanom­wong, the Thai artist who runs the work­shop where the fig­ures are man­u­fac­tured.

Armed with blow torches, heaps of metal bolts and twisted car parts, the artists piece to­gether the elab­o­rate sculp­tures in a ware­house in cen­tral Thai­land called Ban Hun Lek, which trans­lates to “House of Iron Ro­bots”.

The largest sculp­tures -- around 7 to 8m high -- can be sold for thou­sands of dol­lars, he said.

The fac­tory also sells its wares to lo­cal restau­rants and bars but its big­gest cus­tomer base lies abroad, es­pe­cially in Europe, with around 80% of sales made to over­seas clients who have seen the stat­ues on so­cial me­dia.

Nearly 90% of the ma­te­ri­als are re­cy­cled metal, a cost-cut­ting mea­sure that also means each piece is unique.

Tastes have changed quickly since he went into busi­ness, he said.

“Over the past 10 years, peo­ple used to like (char­ac­ters from) Aliens and Preda­tor, but now they like the Trans­form­ers.”– AFP Re­laxnews

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