BANGKOK: — Lightning has struck off the head of a sculpture of a ‘yaksa’ demon adorning the top of a pagoda at Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s most famous monasteries.
The Fine Arts Department was making urgent repairs and trying to dispel concerns that the falling head may be an ill omen.
“Don’t interpret the incident. It’s just an accident,” department director-general Sahawat Naenna said yesterday.
He said it was fortunate that the falling head did not hurt anyone.
Sahawat said he had instructed officials to install a better lightning rod on the sculpture to prevent a recurrence of such a “shocking” incident.
Tarapong Srisuchart, who heads the department’s Archaeology Bureau, said an electric current ran down the original lightning rod fixed above the head of the sculpture during a downpour last week.
“An explosion occurred and the head of the sculpture fell off,” he said.
He said rods could be used to reattach the head to the neck of the sculpture, after which cement would be used to hold them together firmly.
“The process should be completed before the end of this month,” Tarapong said.
Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome inspected Wat Arun yesterday.
Earlier this year, the head and neck of a horse sculpture adorning another small pagoda at Wat Arun broke off. Sukumol said repairs to that statue were complete.
The ministry has prepared a Bt130-million budget for the restoration of Wat Arun between 2013 and 2015, she said.
“Two small pagodas and two surrounding mandapas [pavilions] there are in a dilapidated state,” she said. “In fiscal 2013 we will have a Bt39.7-million budget to restore these structures.”
She said the main pagoda and the landscape of the riverside temple would be renovated in 2014 and 2015 with a budget of Bt130 million.
Though constructed in the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767), Wat Arun or Wat Chaeng (The Temple of the Dawn) became the monastery inside King Taksin’s palace during the Thon Buri period (1767-1782). Thailand’s most famous Buddha statue, the Emerald Buddha, was once enshrined at Wat Arun.