By THE NATION
Department director-general Anandha Chuchoti was responding to criticism on social media that the latest renovations had been carried out so poorly that the original designs on the iconic architectural features had been changed. Anandha told a press conference yesterday that the original 120 decorative designs dating back to the reign of King Rama II – in the early 1800s when the temple’s distinctive spires were built – had been carefully studied before the renovation.
However, due to the spires’ poor condition, as much as 40 per cent of the original designs had needed completely new redecoration, according to the official.
“The Fine Arts Department made careful examinations before starting the restoration. We replaced the damaged parts but still retained the original designs,” the director-general said.
“The main purpose was not to preserve the old features, but rather to maintain the original condition as much as possible.”
However, Anandha admitted that after the renovation, some details in the designs might be slightly altered compared to the original ones, as cement had overlapped into parts of the ceramics and along the edges and lines of some designs.
The riverside temple, and particularly its outstanding spires, are regarded as a symbol of Bangkok and among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks.
Wat Arun, whose official name is Wat Arun Ratchawararam Woramahawihan, was built in the Ayutthaya period, when it was known as Wat Makok. King Taksin, who reigned from 1767 to 1782, renamed the temple Wat Chaeng, or “Temple of Dawn”, as legend had it that he reached the temple at dawn when he intended to establish Thonburi as the new capital. “Wat Arun” is an alternative translation of “Temple of Dawn”.
The temple saw a series of restorations over the next century, in the reigns of King Rama II, III and IV. The latest major restoration began in 2013.