Sunday found us at Baan Phorliang Meun's Terra Cotta Arts garden on the outskirts of Lamphun, thanks to an excursion arranged by the Classic Cars of Lanna, to which we belong. An hourlong drive south along the west side of the Ping River took us to the garden, where we wound our way along lanes flanked by tropical foliage, and then parked - a dozen or so 'classics' gleaming in the noonday sun. After unloading picnic fare we were able to admire the surroundings: nicely built brick buildings flanking large rectangular pools of water, not dissimilar to the 'barays' of Angkor Wat. Some of the trees had labels in Thai, English and Latin, as befitting a botanical garden, to which this one aspires; the entry sign called it a Thai Medicinal Plant Garden, as well as a site of Terra Cotta Arts. The garden's brochure states that it comprises 155 rai, but we were told it is actually over 300.- quite a vast site of about 100 acres. This is where they dig up the clay and make their figures and friezes as seen in their Chiang Mai showroom and garden; a veritable three-dimensional textbook on Asian art, it is a favorite haunt of mine.
Classic cars of Lanna
After lunch a short walking tour to a nearby 'chedi' that was under construction constituted our tour of the site. Incorporating a relic of the Buddha, the second story of the chedi was off limits to women. Completion of the structure was forecast for late this year or next. The style was inspired by Haripunchai structures/ruins in nearby Lamphun, which pre-dated Chiang Mai by over 400 years.
As we left, we passed other structures peeking out of verdant tropical settings. A sense of having not seen all there is here will no doubt bring us back for more.
note scale figure
A Haripunchai 'pediment'
Order of motifs on temple base
Simple spirit house
Nice corner detail of elephants
Large chunks of ornament utilizing copious quantities of clay
A small 'army' of figures on plaques awaiting use
Buddha heads awaiting positioning