Its old-gold tile roof, its vermilion woodwork and marble white walls are opposite the entrance, but the gable of a building on the left of the entrance is peculiarly fine, both for design and for colour effect. Gold, green, magenta and white are here commingled in one harmony. Wat Benchemaa s outer walls hold several buildings, the principal being that opposite the entrance. Through the precincts runs a klong, but it is perhaps indiscreet to speak of its running, for this klong has been ranged between orderly embankments, has been cement-bound, has been railed and given granite posts, and generally has been raised to the status of a klong such as may rightly provide a disciplined bathing place for the boys who live in the school within the walls, priests, or on their way to be priests, some of the scores of thousands of Siamese who pass through the priesthood in youth. Behind the principal building is the temple of the late Queen-Mother, with a Buddha brooding high up in its porch. The ceiling within this temple is a curious octagon vault in vermilion and gold, above yet another Buddha in the centre of the hall. Scattered in the grounds are bronze bells in separate belfries, rung daily thrice. There are very fine bronze
panels to be seen on doorways on the side of the principal temple, and the marble-barred windows paned in pink granite are delicate-lv beautiful. Wat Benchema is accounted the best modern example of the purest Siamese architecture, and its modernity is emphasized in the arches above the doors
Photo. Talat Not Studio.
In Wat Chang, Bangkok. and windows. They
are, it is true, pointed, but they do not draw up to a point with the quick and thoughtless grace of the more ancient arch. Their shape is their owna more massive in line and squat in conception than may be elsewhere seen. But they suit their building, with its sought and deliberate and successful singularity amongst wats. On a glittering morning, or in a blazing evening (at either of which times its colours show up best), you should see Wat Benchema, and having seen, give grateful thanks.
Wat Chang is on the west bank of the river, and best approached by water during the morning when the still-rising sun is reflected back in its myriad colours. Its name means the clear bright temple, and its phraprang is by far the most elaborate, brightest in colour and clearest in pattern. The river landing is protected by two crocodiles in stone. The ground floor of the great phraprang is a raised platform with a balustrade, and on this is set the phraprang whose first stage ends in another balustrade. Above this is a band of kneeling figures supporting the first stagea s motif, but diminished, and this effect twice ascends, so that in all there are three stages. Above the highest go diminishing bands of ornament, ending in a three-headed elephant shrine on each of the four faces, and above again rises the yot, the steeple or peak of the phraprang. At each corner is another phraprang only less high, less elaborate, and with a horse shrine. The whole is amazingly and curiously banded about and ornamented in china of every hue. It scintillates colours, sparkles colours, throws colour at you, and its mass effect, its detail effect, and its mass and detail combined effect are due to nothing more than broken crockery set in cement. For this reason you shall not approach it too closely, nor pass absurd comment upon the separate pieces of china, nor shall you, if you are wise, see the cement gaps between the colours. To these, the necessary ground of this quaint and