Give me shelter

Give me shelter
Roofs. Shelter and safety.

First, a tangent.

 安   is   ān   ~  peace in Mandarin Chinese
安 is ān ~ peace in Mandarin Chinese
Chinese characters are beautiful things. The more interesting ones often contain characters within characters, known as ‘radicals’. So any character containing the character for water is inflected with the sense of liquid, and any character containing the roof radical is inflected with the sense of shelter/safety, or lack of it. Take, for example “an”, or peace. You can see the roof on the top of the character. The same roof appears on top of characters for capitol, government, traitor, the verb to guard, spaciousness and completeness, true and honest, secret and confidential.

The roofs of Thai Buddhist temples are nearly as fascinatingly rich in meaning. A Garuda commands the peak. These South East Asian eagles are the God Vishnu’s ride. Four Naga guard the gables, mythical serpents of great power, their cobra-like heads rear up in defense, ready to strike against threats, the rigid spines of their backs, like barbed wire.

Shelter, protection, safe haven.


Wat Pho
Bangkok, Thailand

Taken during travels, 1995