Subject: Viharnra-Sien: Chinese museum sanctuary review guide 2018 08.09.18 16:52
Chinese Viharnra-Sien Sanctuary Museum
Fig 1: Viharna-Sien Chinese museum
Three reasons to visit Viharnra Sien
– Amazing museum detailing famous Chinese antiques, artworks and Chinese history
– Attractive design and aesthetics in serene and picturesque surroundings
– Outstanding museum of quality outside China dedicated to Chinese culture and history
Viharnra-Sien: In probably the best review guide in 2018 to a unique Chinese sanctuary museum in Thailand, this introductory appraisal differs to provide the ultimate subjective alternative to modernity. The #Viharnra-Sien is more than a cultural exhibition; it’s an essential never-forgotten-experience leading those who seek foreign adventure out of the mainstream itinerary and into the remote and mysterious oasis of personal discovery.
The travel world generally resembles a vast book, and its chapters comprise the Seven Wonders of the World, in which reflective experiences remain those which uniquely touch the individual. Usually, an experience contains a visual element, although the brain possesses a habit of deleting previous 'beautiful sunsets with white sandy beaches' when the following one arrives. Consequently, profound experiences remain those which also touch the mind and survive long after the multitude of tourist images fade. The Viharna-Sien Chinese museum remains one such rare and extraordinary experience for the Thailand tourist seeking to discover Thailand.
If Thailand listed its notable seven tourist wonders, the unique Viharn-Sien Chinese museum would feature in number one position. Situated within the 58.5 hectare Wat Yansangwararam temple complex, the special status of Viharnra-Sien ensures its varied collection of artifacts related to Chinese philosophies and religion including Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism remain unique. Also, within its rural and picturesque three acre walls lie the best collection of unique religious and historic artifacts, paintings and murals, enshrined statues and historic antiques anywhere outside China. Including 1000 pieces, several on permanent loan and others gifts from the Chinese government. Moreover, pottery on display includes pieces from the Shang dynasty, predating this pottery at least 3,000 years.
The inspiration behind the Viharnra-Sien enterprise; Sa-nga Kulkobkiat (Fig 2), a Master of Feng Shui who also initiated, designed and supervised the three acre architectural construction, using yin and yang standards, the influence of opposites which shape destinies. Starting in 1987, HM Bhumibol Adulyadej granted royal permission for the construction to begin and presided over the completed project in December 1993.
Fig 2: Statue of Viharnra Sien founder Sa-nga Kulkobkiat
The original and official Thai title of Viharnra-Sien is Anek Kusala Sala; or in Chinese 'Dan Fu Yuan', which translates as, 'House (abode) of Gods.' The Chinese word 'Sien' translates to Gods or immortals and in Taoism these immortals occupy the universe. However, the Sien further divide into heavenly beings that live in the sky or heaven and terrestrial immortals that live on earth in forests. Similarly, rather as the ancient western Greek mythology contained its own Gods and heroes reflecting on the world and its origins, eventually the mythology became a religion.
The Sanctuary and Courtyard
Within the central courtyard, the highlight is a solid brass statue depicting the legendary Eight Immortal Gods of Chinese Taoist mythology (Fig 3), measuring eleven meters in length and four meters in height (33'x 12'). The Immortal’s possess the divine power to confer life and destroy evil. In one example of Chinese literature arising during the Ming era 'Eight immortals cross the sea' (c. 14th and 15th centuries), the Immortal’s rely on their combined divine powers to overcome the harsh elements on their raft of logs. The moral to their success suggests that life requires a mixture of individual effort and combined abilities.
Fig 3: The eight Immortals of Chinese mythology
The illustrated Chinese temple and shrine lies to the right of the entrance and shows the Immortals statue with the museum in the background (Fig 4). Laid out along either side of the compound stand statues of various Chinese Gods and deities and featured is the Taoist God (Fig 5). The museum shown in the background illustration, based on a replica of an ancient Chinese palace hall, is a three-story construction. A pair of stone 'Beijing Lions', 3.5 m. in height and each weighing 22 tons 'guard' the main entrance (Fig 6).
Fig 4: The courtyard Chinese sanctuary
Fig 5: Courtyard statue of Wang Ch'an Lao, a Taoist God
Fig 6: The museum entrance
2018 Museum Review Guide
The first (ground) floor comprises a large hall, with antechambers leading to further exhibitions. Despite the modernity of overhead strip lighting and occasional humming of humidifiers and electric fans, there remains an aura of mysticism reminiscent of a sanctuary in the surrounding silence.
Entering the ground floor and immediately in front (Fig 7) is Budia (laughing Buddha) representing contentment and abundance. A death note dated 916 A.D. attributed to Budia, claims the incarnation of Maitreya, The Buddha of the Future.
On the right of the hall, a large model of The Great Wall and two original Terra-Cotta warriors (Fig 8) found in China in 1974 taken from the tomb of the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang (260 – 210 B.C.) and on permanent loan. Also, other original items taken from the excavation include two original bronze statues of the Emperor’s horse drawn carriage at the rear of the hall. A multitude of other items on display include a priceless two-meter high jade pagoda (Fig 9).
To the left stand life-size Chinese Gods and saints. Between the displays stand around 60 bronze sculptures, as well as figurines of various Gods and deities. An antechamber at the rear of the hall also contains an interior replica of Sa-nga Kulkobkiat’s home, including two jade tigers and original furniture. A well-stocked souvenir counter stands opposite the antechamber by the stairs leading to the second floor.
Fig 7: The museum interior view
Fig 8: Two original Terra Cotta warriors
Fig 9: Jade pagoda exhibit
The second floor contains a pavilion leading to an outdoor terrace. The pavilion is dedicated as a temple shrine to Lü Dongbin (Fig 10), the leader of the eight immortals. Outside on the terrace resembling a game of chess, stand an array of life-size bronze statues depicting scholars, military, scribes, administrators and Emperors and also, all the featuring characters of ancient Chinese society (Fig 11). Additionally, to the left and right stand narrow T shaped Thai Art Rooms. The left room contains art and murals, including cultural artefacts and models depicting the Royal Thai dynasty (Fig 12). The glass box displays run down either side of a central aisle and contain classical musical instruments and hand-carved wooden sculptures of houses and traditional village life. The Art Room on the right is dedicated to Buddha with gold coloured statues and paintings. Next to the left art room is an open roofed sanctuary type display of the Taoist leader and to the right a similar display of Touch Kuan Yu (A.D. 100 – 219), a revered historical Chinese warrior.
Fig 10: Lü Dongbin shrine
Fig 11: Life-size bronze statues featuring characters of ancient Chinese society
Fig 12: The Thailand Art Room featuring traditional culture
The final third floor is an attic pavilion with a balcony. The room contains a Buddhist shrine depicting the three Buddha’s relating to those achieving higher spiritual advancement (Fig 13). The balcony offers a panoramic view of the second floor terrace and nearby scenery.
Fig 13: Buddhist shrine depicting the three Buddha’s
In conclusion, just as this 2018 best review guide contains a brief introduction, the Viharnra-Sien is not an experience achieved in a one-hour visit as part of a discover Thailand tourist itinerary. On retracing your steps and leaving the Viharnra Sien spare a cursory glance back at the Chinese museum and sanctuary as they become an indelible part of your memory and remember; for a short period in life you were in the presence of ancient history and Gods.
Internet location discrepancies often arise in the Viharna Sien location. Take the main Sukhumvit Road from Pattaya heading south towards Sattahip. After approximately 15 Kms turn left at the traffic light intersection signposted 'Wat Yansangwararam.' Carry on for four Kms and turn right, signposted 'Wi Han Sian.' The Viharnra Sien is 1½ Kms on the right. Across the road is ample free parking space, toilet facilities, a restaurant and also contains the ticket booth selling entrance tickets at 50 Baht (£1.13, $1.6, €1.3). The total journey time from central Pattaya is approximately 60 minutes. Opening times 0800 to 1700 and last tickets sold at 1600. The majority international signs are in Thai, Chinese and English.
Lat 12.787970 Long 100.954821 - GPS 12° 47' 16.692'' N 100° 57' 17.3556''