There is a Hindu temple in Bangkok, in the Bangrak district, which is the largest Hindu shrine in the world outside India: the Sri Mariamman temple. Built in 1879 by Vaithi Padayatchi, a Tamil Hindu immigant, it is also the oldest in all of Thailand.
For its beauty and grandeur, it is visited every year not only by the Hindu population, but also by thousands of tourists.
The colorful structure includes an imposing Gopura, a six-meter-tall tower, finely decorated, typical of South Indian temples.
The facade has an incredibly varied style, covered with images of the deities in a multitude of shapes and sizes. The main sanctuary is a dome covered with a gilded copper plate.
Inside the complex, there are three sacred buildings dedicated to Ganesh, Kartik and the main one of Sri Maha Mariamman, in which the statues of the deities are located.
To ensure the survival of this place and its integral sacredness, the family that currently guards the temple took the important decision to replace all the ancient frescos with mosaic works. The mosaic is recognized as an ‘eternal painting,’ which does not deteriorate and maintains the splendor of the colors and the vigor of the figures represented over time.
The delicate task was entrusted to Sicis, which, using gold and Murano glass tesserae, masterfully elaborated these works through the technique of artistic mosaic.
The internal artists of the committee in charge of the sanctuary painted the deities by hand and then sent them to the Ravenna laboratories. Here, all the works have been recreated with the double indirect method, patented in 1989 by the president and owner of the company, Maurizio Placuzzi. In fact, with this method, the artists specialized in ancient mosaic art can define all the creative phases from the Ravenna Atelier. Only later, thanks to the special light support, these are moved where they will find their permanent home.
Each fresco was thus meticulously reconstructed, choosing the right tone for each brushstroke, for each detail. In a special way for the incarnates, which are different and often representative of the divinity, the selection process of the tiles was crucial, and in this, the infinite palette of Sicis tesserae was really of primary importance.
The mosaic masters thus recreated the images, paying maniacal attention to the expressions of the faces, the position of objects and symbols. In addition to the artistic mosaic, works were also created in micro-mosaic and minute mosaics, extremely precious both for the refine materials and for the processing procedure followed by masters of art with special skills, normally used for the production of terrific portraits and jewelry.
The project, due to its complexity and historical-artistic content, was divided into various phases. Initially, the first two deities were placed at the entrance to the temple, Sri Maha Mariamman and Shiva. Subsequently, the external walls of the main chapel and of the independent temple were covered with gold leaf and gold mosaic. Here, the sunlight shines on the golden minute tiles generating a dazzling, almost enveloping effect.
In a second time, the nine Hindu deities were produced and installed, positioned in the vault of the central nave of the temple, the most spectacular part, in the niches and on two of the walls. This second phase has been the most relevant to date and has seen the involvement of over 80 Sicis Lab mosaic masters, who have collaborated alongside the temple art commission.
Up to now, more than 6 million mosaic tiles have been used, an even more impressive number if we think that they have been masterfully worked one by one by the hands of those who selected, cut and elaborated the individual paintings.
The project provides for further developments that will continue for at least another two years due to the majesty, with the implementation of another 20 divinities that will be placed on the two side vaults of the temple. In addition, 12 highly sought-after micro-mosaics will be completed for the base of the main nave of the temple.