pattern in black and gold, lets us through to pass the fierce scrutiny of two grotesque figures of a Yak a or giants of Siamese mythology, the guardians of the gate. Leaning on their bamboo staves of solid stone, they glare at us with starting eyes, but let us through. They are far more terrifying in aspect than the Siamese stone figures around the courts of the wat. The great oblong building at the north end of the site, under whose shadow the military are wont to practise discords on the bugle, has six roofs, the gable ends of each flaming off into bright yellow glass scales. The windows on the ground floor are in heavy carved black-wood frames. The roofs are supported on round pillars. The prachedia s spire tapers from a ground base of steps, and is covered with yellow small glass tiles laced across with diagonal ribbon-and-flower motifs in divers colours, of which the most handsome is without doubt the green and dark-blue effect. Throughout this wat is that marvellously effective black ground and gold figuring in lacquer on wood which is so happily common in Siam. All the hundreds of animal figures in stone which haunt this wat are in terribly bad repair, and it
hhotu. Sian.ese State Railways.
Wat Benchamababitra, Bangkok.
would be an engaging pastime to search the courts for a creature undamaged. They have all been presented as an act of merit by people who acquired merit out of that one act of presentation, and no more merit is to be made by anyone else out of repairing a figure. So they are a collection of cripples living in a ward for decrepit images, and even the pettiest piglet amongst them has attracted mischievous attention, and in consequence lacks his snout.
The shrine on the right of the main temple is open for visitors on payment of a fee. In it sits Buddha preaching to five disciples, who are seated facing him. He is said to have been imported to Bangkok from Ronpibon, far down the Siamese Malay Peninsula. Other shrines are full of Buddhas, and long galleries are filled with them, so that three hundred and ninety-seven in all are said to be here, made in Bangkok and presented or brought from other places. Some are kept in repair by plastering and gilding at intervals, and those which get the most attention grow in size with each coat of plaster. The bronze monsters, which are a feature of this wat, have no such ambition. They are sized once and for all.
The Royal Buddha shrine has a beautiful mother-of-pearl inlay, and its walls are frescoed. To the central Buddha here all the stages of his shrine rake up, and around him small disciples accept the word.
Close to the conspicuous two leaning red posts of the Brahmin swinging festival is Wat Sutat, whose principal court is a square.
Along its edges sit many a score of Buddhas looking out on to the paved court set round with flowering bushes. The centre shrine is in a square, and at each corner is a bronze horse. This is a hushed wat, very quiet and still, its silence emphasized at times by the cawing of the crows as they hop in and out of the stone lanterns in its grounds. The small granite figures disposed about the steps leading up to the shrine are curious, and the carved wooden doors are fine.