Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Brings her favourite photos to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to welcome the year of the pig
A gigantic photo of an alert-looking Lamunlamai with her tongue hanging out greets the visitor to “Hello Puppy, Greetings Piggy”, the annual exhibition of photographs captured by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn that opened earlier this month at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.
Its caption reads: “She likes to sleep on the grass. If you say ‘take a photo’ then she will stay still,” which no doubt explains the “look at me” demeanour of this royal dog.
For the past decade, the Princess has graciously granted permission to exhibit her photographs as a source of knowledge for students and wider public. The 11th edition features the images she captured in 2017 and 2018, both at her residence, Sra Pathum Palace, and during her travels in Thailand and overseas. In all, 156 pictures are on show.
At the launch event last week, Princess Sirindhorn explained some of stories behind to the images, laughing as she noted that time goes by so fast that she has to record her memories in pictures.
The offerings to the guardian spirits and “GrandpaGrandma” spirits at Sra Pathum Palace./Nation Photo
“Everything changes constantly. Even in Sra Pathum Palace, where I have been living for more than 18 years, there are new discoveries to be made and photographed every day. Outside my home, changes can be seen everywhere, both in and outside of Thailand. Travelling aboard opens my eyes to so many new things, showing me that life is full of wonders every day. Some pictures were taken during the journeys themselves and, as the result, some are kind of blurred,” says the Princess.
The first photo of the year taken on January 1, 2018 was the picture of Lamunlamai and ushered in the year of the dog. She is the star of this year’s exhibition.
“Lamunlamai used to be quite aggressive but she’s better now. At night, she likes to eat a sandwich. When people offer her food, she’ll take it then drop it immediately,” the princess adds.
“She also likes people to speak to her in English. If you say ‘take a photo’, then she would stay still and poses nicely for you. She likes to put an act for a good image.”
Another highlight is “Our Leading Man”, a portrait of Dr Sumet Tantivejakul, the secretary general of the Chaipattana Foundation under the late King Bhumibol’s patronage.
“Dr Sumet promises to come to the grand opening of the exhibition every year. So, I’ve been taking his photo since he was very hot. Now, of course, he’s less hot,” the Princess adds with a broad smile.
A photo that grabs the attention shows the daily food offering to the “Guardian Spirits” and the “Grandpa – Grandma” spirits at Sra Pathum Palace. “About four years ago, I dreamt of these two elderly spirits. They came to my room dressed in casual clothes and told me they were here to look after me. So I like to offer them something in return to show my gratitude,” she notes.
Other photographs that draw the eye include a shot of custard apples grown in a pot at Sra Pathum Palace, and one of Mee Kao, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s dog, happily welcoming guests at Chitralada Palace. “Her Majesty’s royal dog can sit in this position (with two paws raised) for a very long time. She is a welcoming dog and likes to guard Her Majesty. In the past, she used to wear shoes but not anymore. If we leave without telling her, she’s not at all happy,” the Princess says.
“The one that shows piglets being fed was taken at the Chaipattana Foundation’s Chaipat Park in Nakhon Pathom province. It’s said that the dwarf pig has the same IQ as a dog and I often wonder how on earth this is measured! What is true is that these pigs need careful raising as unless you keep an eye on their diet, they can pile on up to 200 kilograms in weight. This pig is being fed with goat’s milk,” says Princess Sirindhorn.
Who woke me? Hua Kabuan gives a big yawn./Courtesy of BACC
Bugs, birds, millipedes, snails, toads, trees, lotuses and other flowers also make it into the collection of photos, which are also available in book form, the preface to which notes that they, like everything else, change from hour to hour, day to day and year to year.
“Bob gets comfortable” is the title of a photo showing an elderly cat called Bobby catching forty winks. “Bobby has some teeth but no canines. He has kidney disease but that hasn’t dampened his gangster character,” the Princess explains.
Another two photographs feature a royal cat called Hua Kabuan (Locomotive) at Sra Pathum Palace. “The vet named this cat, Hua Kabuan when he attached the microchip. Her Royal Highness Princess Bajarakitiyabha tells me that there’s now a mobile app that can trace pets so there’s no need for a microchip.”
One photograph taken from a helicopter during Princess Sirindhorn’s visit to the South of the country shows the Thepa River in Songkhla province. Another, titled “Soldiers and Seeds” was snapped at Somdej Phra Ekathitsarot Army Base in Phitsanulok while “Farmed Frogs by Soldiers” was taken at Pho Khun Pha Muang Army Base in Petchabun province.
There are many photographs featuring the culture and history of the countries making up the Balkan Peninsula, such as Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro as well as a particularly striking image, “Emerging Dragons” taken at Caerphilly Castle in Wales.
“There are many beautiful paintings too and it would take so much time to learn about them,” says Princess Sirindhorn.
The exhibition also displays a lot of photographs taken during the royal visit to Greece including snaps of Athens and the Parthenon, all of them, the Princess notes, the most popular spots for visitors to take photos.
In China, Princess Sirindhorn photographed her signature on the piano at the Han Meilin Private Museum. Han Meilin, she explains, is a very famous and Chinese artist. “When he was invited to design a stamp for the Year of the Monkey, he painted a monkey family with parent and two baby monkeys. Later the government issued a new law allowing Chinese people to have two children. Now he’s designed a stamp featuring a pig family with three piglets and reporters are wondering if the government will pass another new law allowing people to have three children. I guess we will have to wait and see,” she says with a smile.
In the preface of the souvenir book, Princess Sirindhorn writes that she hopes her friends, old and new, and even the ones she has never met, will be pleased with the photos from this year’s exhibition.
With a smile like Lamunlamai’s, we’re pretty sure they will.
- “Hello Puppy, Greetings Piggy” by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is at the Main Gallery on the ninth floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre until March 10.
- Admission is free. The BAAC is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm. (Close on Monday)
- The “Hello Puppy, Greetings Piggy” book, in Thai and English, is available at the BACC’s shop and at Chulalongkorn Bookstore for Bt900.