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Ancient Rock Art Painting at Sikhiu, Nakhon Ratchasima

Started by Johnnie F., Feb 23, 2019, 11:38 AM

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Johnnie F.

Ancient Rock Art Painting at Sikhiu

Once again I regret not possessing a detailed map of Nakhon Ratchasima Province. Although I know that rock art from the Stone Age can be found at Wat Khao Chan Ngam in Amphur Sikhiu, near the National Road 2, but where can I find this Wat?

Coming of Korat and having passed Sikhiu already, I drive slower and watch out for an otherwise usual blue and white sign for directions. I can't find one. When I reached Lam Takhong  Reservoir t, I knew I had missed the exit. Angry at myself and the world, I turn and go back to just before Sikhiu. Then I drive the route in and see.

Shortly after the intersection with the 201, I find the unmarked entrance to that Wat. What I find, however, is a lonely Wat, on whose premises a door and windowless tower stands at the foot of an altar with a silver statue, and a geologically interesting terrain, with natural caverns, which are probably kept cool by ascending gases formed in the liquid magma.

I am looking for the famous rock paintings. The Wat close to the highway, is the wrong place; there aren't any. But here, Don learns that we are not far from our destination. We look around again and again and Don asks. Most people know nothing, or Don's questions aren't understood by the locals.

Again, I have not found the right exit, again it goes back and the search begins anew. Now we succeed. Actually, the road to the Wat is easy to find, once you know it. It branches off a few hundred yards behind the large weighing station at the highway to the left. There is even a concrete driveway at this sign, that is drawing attention to the Wat. Unfortunately, it can be seen only when you're almost there already and not less unfortunately the writing is in Thai only.

For about three kilometers we drive steadily uphill. Then we pass a big stone gate and enter the temple compound. When we see the buildings of the Wat underneath the huge trees we keep right until we cannot go any further. There is a parking lot with also a couple of signs I cannot read.

The path from here, passing a gigantic concrete tiger, though it  is leading into the forrest is the right way.

Already after a few meters we're walking in between high rise rock towers from which plateaus  arm-thick air roots are leading 6 to 8 meters down into the ground.

Don feels a little queasy by those unreal appearing rocks as high as houses and the trees growing upon them, and probably thinks about the spirits who might be inhabiting them and doing their good or bad.

After some bends and up a steep path we're getting to a plateau that is surrounded on all sides by about 6 to 8 meter high piled up rocks. A small prayer corner seems to indicate that we have reached our destination.

Yes, we did arrive! Though we're not in a cave, as it is sometimes described, but below some over-hanging rocks we can see an about four meters high rock wall with the rock art paintings we were looking for.

These prehistoric paintings are probably from the Paleolithic age. This work of art, in front of which we're standing now, was created supposedly four to three thousand years ago and is of religious nature.

those partially weather-beaten depictions of people, animals and items of commodity were probably part of a place of worship of the people living here by then.

A few remains of paint on a rock wall more exposed to weather and decay let us conclude that those prehistoric artists had created a very huge artwork there, of which only a very small part below the over-hanging rock has remained intact having been protected there from sun, rain and wind.

While I'm still taking photographs Don alerts me to a table opposite the painting with a glas container about 12 cm in diameter and 25 cm high. "Child", does she say. "A child is in there", she does repeat herself. And really, the small head and feet of a newborn can be clearly seen in the liquid.

Also this  item of recent time, which has been appearing somewhat macabre to me, seems to be part of this place of worship. Surrounding the glas were modern plastic toys surrounding the glas, probably for the child to play, if, yes, if...! Don doesn't have an explanation or doesn't want to give me one, because she's afraid of the child's spirit.

Once again I'm flattered about a relic of the religious life of Thais. Even if I can understand the prayer area with their dominating Buddha statue beside the rock art painting the purpose of this child in the glas will remain hidden to me forever.

Looking further around this unreal appearing place on top of one of the rock towers a kuti inhabited by monks and at some places a broom leaning against the rock wall I assume that this well-kept place has been maintained by the monks of the nearby temple and still ask myself unacquaintedly what the child in the glas has got to do with Buddhism.

Wondering I still stay a while at this unreal place, and then Don is glad that we can leave this sinister location.

Originally published in German by Werner Schwalm on