Erawan Museum, The Three Headed Elephant in Samut Prakan
Erawan Museum - Samut Prakan, ( Paknam ) Thailand. The Three Headed Elephant
The museum's three separate floors symbolise the universe and are designed in accordance
with the three-tiered cosmology of the Hindu-Thai Buddhist concept of Tribhumi.
The basement level represents the underworld. Alongside rare artefacts from furniture
to ceramics and pottery, large display boards detail the history and construction
of the Erawan Museum.
Moving up to the next level, depicting the human world, the exquisite interior decoration
inside the dome-shaped architecture reflects a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western
art. Highlights include the splendid stained glass ceiling on which a world map and
zodiac are illustrated, the creative design of German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf.
Intricately detailed stucco works by Phetchaburi artisans were elaborately installed
over the sweeping staircases, and magnificent arches as well as the Avalokiteshavara
shrine are situated on the mezzanine level. All these decorative stuccos are enhanced
with countless pieces of crusted Bencharong ceramics.
The finely embellished venue is supported by four embossed tin pillars on which are
depicted religious tales. These standing columns portray the four Buddhist principles
of virtue that helps bring authentic peace to the heart of mankind and sustain the
A narrow spiral staircase passing through the right hind leg of the elephant leads
to Tavatimsa Heaven, deep inside the elephant's belly.
This eye-catching room on the top of the museum marks the second heaven where Indra
resides, and houses two superb Buddha images, glistening with gold. Portions of relics
of the Lord Buddha are placed inside the walking Buddha statue below a replica of
the Phra Phuttha Sihing.
Apart from a display of old Buddha images from different periods, the most charming
feature of this level is its curved wall and ceiling, which was transformed into
a representation of the eternal cosmos with beautiful hand-painted patterns.
As a result of the solid Hindu influence in Thai Buddhism, the grand Erawan statue
has come to serve as a prominent sacred object between Thai worshippers who continue
to visit the museum to pay homage and seek blessings from their God elephant.