Nightmare: you are looking at the final, too-late-to-change proofs of a book you are responsible for, and notice a glaring mistake.
On page 21 of our soon-to-be-released publication Emerald Cities, Arts of Siam and Burma, 1775-1950, there’s a photo of one of Thailand’s most important temples. The only problem is, the photo is of the wrong building.
The person who made this mistake is an ignoramus, a bonehead, and a flake. And worst of all, it’s me.
Not being one to accept responsibility if I can help it, I’ve searched for someone else to blame. No luck.
The building that’s supposed to be shown is Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok (photo A). (Wat means “temple;” Benchamabophit, derived from Sanskrit panchamapavitra, means “The Fifth Revered One.” The temple was built beginning in 1899 by King Rama V (a.k.a. Chulalongkorn, reigned 1868-1910), the fifth monarch of the dynasty.
What actually got shown (photo B) is a smaller copy of Wat Benchamabophit at Bodh Gaya in India. Bodh Gaya is the site where the Buddha achieved Enlightenment, and so, from the traditional Buddhist point of view, the center of the world. Pilgrims have flocked there for untold centuries.
The temple copying Wat Benchamabophit was built by the Thai government at Bodh Gaya in 1957 to mark the year 2500 of the Buddhist calendar (according to Thai reckoning).
The photo of the great temple in Bangkok that was supposed to go into our book, as well as the photo of the copy in India that ended up in the book, were both taken by me. How I—who am supposed to know better—managed to mix them up is a mystery.
Thank goodness for blogs as a vehicle of confession and correction.
Forrest McGill, Chief Curator
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