In my earlier post on war photography, I referenced the Buddhist temple Wat Thmei, which is also the site of killing field memorial. Further development of the project theme of ‘tender’ through Buddhism has led me to the role that flowers play within this religion. At all of the shrines I saw (whether visiting them specifically or just walking past), they were always adorned with flowers. In the main, these were yellow carnations. However, after doing some basic research, it appears that lotus flowers are the most sacred of all flowers for Buddhists. I only managed to get one picture of a lotus flower and this one was still a bud, unopened. At the time I could not be bothered to take out my DSLR so I took it with the iPhone 7. It’s not a bad shot, but the highlights are blown out and there is nothing I can to recover them (and yes I have tried).
“The Lotus flower is one of the many flowers to be seen in Thailand. It is found in mud and the roots stick in that, however this beautifully scented flower with fantastic leaves sits above the mud. This is meant to symbolise the evolution of the soul and the different stages of the life of someone in the Buddhist religion. There are many different types of lotus flower that are used in Buddhist ceremonies, and choosing the right one is important when you are celebrating”1
Whilst at the flower market I decided to take pictures of flowers other than the thousands of yellow carnations that I saw… and I’m slightly regretting that decision. So as an added dimension to project theme of ‘tender’ that may be expressed through the representation of Buddha, I am leaning towards incorporating a floral aspect to the project. How I will achieve that remains to be seen.
One of the things that I had to take into account from a health and safety perspective was the fact that I was in a working market, so you have customers, vendors, tourists, wet floors, cleaners and even moped riders to contend with. Therefore, it was not all about getting the right shot, it was also being aware of your surroundings and making sure that you also did not offend any of the vendors by taking shots without their permission. Most if not all of them had no issue… there were many tourists with cameras present, but I would only take a picture with a vendor if I had implicit authority, in most cases this was through eye contact and body language. Anyway, what I show below are vendor-less shots.
On a slight deviation from flowers, but within the theme of offerings and Buddha, it was of course Chinese New Year when we in Cambodia. At our hotel, they had even got in a pig which had been roasted and we were invited to celebrate with the staff, but unfortunately, we had made alternative plans. At all shrines and not just for New Year, offerings of food and drink are placed by the shrine. So I give you the offering to Buddha for Chinese New Year that was in our hotel reception… This is what I love about travel, the exposure to different cultures…. If this were the UK or even Western Europe, people would be having a fit about a roasted pig in the hotel reception… offering to Buddha or no offering to Buddha.
In my mind this one picture represents both cruel and tender – the ‘cruelty’ of killing of an animal and that fact that a central tenet of Buddhism is not to take life (including that of animals) and the ‘tenderness’ in the offering of that pig along with other food and drink as an offering…. the contradictions of life are sometimes very strange and challenging.
Assignment criteria: 1, 2 & 4