The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand

Benedict Anderson, Seagull Books, 2012, vii, 99 p, ISBN : 9780857420275, $20.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: 1. Strange ghosts. 2. Luang Phor Khom and his times. 3. Undercurrents. 4. Temple boy? Temple slave. 5. The future. Epilogue.
In 1975, when political scientist Benedict Anderson reached Wat Phai Rong Wua, a massive temple complex in rural Thailand conceived by Buddhist monk Luang Phor Khom, he felt he had wandered into a demented Disneyland. One of the world's most bizarre tourist attractions, Wat Phai Rong Wua was designed as a cautionary museum of sorts, its gruesome statues depict violent and torturous scenes that showcase what hell may be like. Over the next few decades, Anderson found himself transfixed by this unusal amalgamation of objects, returning several times to see attractions like the largest metal-cast Buddha figure in the world and the Palace of a Hundred Spires. The concrete statuaries and perverse art in Luang Phor's Khom's personal museum of hell included, 201cside by side, an upright human skeleton in a glass cabinet and a life-size replica of Michelangelo's gigantic nude David, wearing fashionable red underpants from the top of which poked part of a swollen, un-Florentine penis,201d alongside dozens of statues of evildoers being ferociously punished in their afterlife.  (jacket)
Copyright 1996-2013 Vedamsbooks. All rights reserved