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Birth of Edvard Munch - December 12
Hello, Atlantica Players.
A Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch, who confessed "Fear and horror for my life has followed me as long as I can remember," was born on Dec. 12, 1863.
He lost his mother at 5, and suffered from various diseases.
Those unhappy memories of death, disease, and the melancholy of his young life were expressed in his paintings, and The Scream is his best known work.
Many of his paintings have universal appeal in addition to their highly personal meaning. Furthermore, his style was highly influential, particularly with the German Expressionists in the early 20th century.
Khun Chang Khun Phaen (Thai: ขุนช้างขุนแผน) is an epic Thai poem which originated from a folktale and is one of the most notable works in Thai literature. Chang and Phaen are the leading male characters, and "Khun" was a junior feudal title given for male commoners.
The story is a classic love triangle, ending in high tragedy. Khun Phaen (dashing but poor) and Khun Chang (rich but ugly) compete for the lovely Wanthong from childhood for over fifty years. Their contest involves two wars, several abductions, a suspected revolt, an idyllic sojourn in the forest, two court cases, trial by ordeal, jail, and treachery. Ultimately the king condemns Wanthong to death for failing to choose between the two men. The poem was written down in the early nineteenth century, and a standard printed edition first published in 1917–1918. Like many works with origins in popular entertainment, it is fast-moving and stuffed full with heroism, romance, sex, violence, rude-mechanical comedy, magic, horror, and passages of lyrical beauty. In Thailand, the story is universally known. Children learn passages at school, and the poem is a source of songs, popular sayings, and everyday metaphors. The poem is also controversial because of its male bias and violence.
As a novice, Phlai Kaeo (who later is given the title, Khun Phaen), is schooled in the “inner ways" (Thai: ทางใน, thang nai). This phrase refers to beliefs in supernatural powers which exist within human beings and other natural objects, and which can be activated through taught skills. These beliefs stem from the esoteric school of Buddhism, and are found as a substratum in Buddhism throughout Southeast Asia and other parts of the Buddhist world.
The methods to activate these latent powers include meditation and recitation of mantras or formulas (elsewhere, yoga is another method). The power can also be transferred to objects, especially diagrams known as yantra (Thai: เลขยันต์, lek yan). In India, where they probably originated, such diagrams are composed mostly of geometric shapes with symbolic meanings arranged in symmetrical patterns (the mandala is a yantra). In the Thai tradition, these diagrams also include numbers in sequences with supernatural meaning, pictures of gods and powerful animals (lion, tiger, elephant), and formulas or abbreviated formulas written in Pali or Khmer. To have power, these diagrams have to be drawn by an adept under strict rules (such as reciting formulas continuously, completing the drawing in one sitting), and activated by reciting a formula.
Yantra (called yan in Thai) diagrams can be carried on the body in various ways: tattoed on the skin (sak yan - สักยันต์); imprinted on a shirt or inner shirt; imprinted on a scarf (Thai: ประเจียด, prajiat) tied round the head, arm, or chest; imprinted on a belt, perhaps made from human skin; imprinted on paper or cloth which is then rolled and plaited into a ring (Thai: แหวน พิรอด, waen phirot); inscribed on a soft metal such as tin which is coiled round a cord and worn as an amulet (Thai: ตะกรุด, takrut). The main purpose of these various forms of yan designs with Khom inscriptions, is to give invulnerability or protection against various forms of threat.
The same purpose is served by carrying amulets made from natural materials which have some unusual property which seems contrary to nature. A good example is mercury – a metal which has the unusual property of behaving like a fluid. Other examples include cat’s eye, a semi-precious stone which resembles an animal’s eye, and “fluid metal” (Thai: เหล็กไหล, lek lai), a metal-like substance believed to become malleable under the heat of a candle’s flame. These items can be strung on cords and worn around various parts of the body, or inserted under the skin.
Before going into battle or any other undertaking entailing risk, Khun Phaen decks himself with several of these items. He also consults various oracles which indicate whether the time and the direction of travel is auspicious. These oracles include casting various forms of horoscope, looking for shapes in the clouds, and examining which nostril the breath is passing most easily.
Khun Phaen is also schooled in mantras or formulas with supernatural power. They are used for such purposes as stunning enemies, transforming his body into other forms, opening locks and chains, putting everyone else to sleep, and converting sheaves of grass into invulnerable spirit warriors. Khun Phaen also uses love formulas to captivate women, and to allay the wrath of the king.
Finally, Khun Phaen has a corps of spirits which he looks after. They defend him against enemy spirits, act as spies, and transport him at speed. In a famous passage, Khun Phaen acquires an especially powerful spirit from the still-born foetus of his own son. This spirit is known as a Gumarn Tong (Thai: กุมารทอง), a golden child.
In the poem, the command of these powers is described using several combinations of the following words: wicha (Thai: วิชา), taught knowledge; witthaya (Thai: วิทยา), similar to the suffix, -ology; wet (Thai: เวท), from veda, the Brahminical scriptures; mon (Thai: มนตร์), mantra, a Buddhist prayer; katha (Thai: คาถา), a verse or formula; and akhom (Thai: อาคม), from agama, a Sanskrit word meaning knowledge, especially pre-vedic texts. These words position the command of these powers as an ancient and sacred form of learning.