Friday, April 5, 2013

Wrapped in Swaddling Cloth

In Thailand, it's common to see colorful cloth wrapped around various objects, including the bows of long-tail boats, the steering wheels of cars and tuk tuks, and trees. In the case of trees, it's believed that spirits live in certain species that are old and big, and consequently monks and laypeople wrap material around them to designate their sacredness. You can always find trees with stripes of color in and around Buddhist temples, and sometimes even religious buildings themselves, as well as images of the Buddha, are draped in cloth. The fabric bundled around parts of boats, cars, and tuk tuks, however, serves another function. The cloth symbolically protects the vehicles and passengers from accidents and other dangers. The way the driver of this three-wheeler was maniacally swerving in and out of lanes today, he should have wrapped his entire vehicle in fabric.