Thai Zodiac Temple
In the West the astrological zodiac signs are as follows: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
The roots however can be found in Babylonian astrology, filtered (not Instagram!) through Hellenistic culture.
Similarly, the Thai zodiac is based upon the Chinese version and almost identical, except for some Thai 'twists', which you will see underneath.
Note that the Thai zodiac doesn't use the same dates as the Western one, there's a 23-day difference.
Officially the 12 are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Naga, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
You can find statues of the 12 zodiac animals in some temples only in North Thailand, at least that's what I found on the internet.
Some temples are even dedicated to one particular animal, such as Chiang Mai's Wat Ketkaram, a must-visit pilgrimage place for all those born in the year of the Dog!
The Pig with a charming rider and some piglets underneath.
Therefore I was quite surprised to discover a zodiac collection (complete with riders, also rather unusual) at Bangyai's Wat Pikun Ngoen, in Nonthaburi.
The Dog with a demon rider.
Note that the animals are placed on top of a pedestal that also contains the ashes of the deceased...
The Rooster (with 3 tiny ones underneath...)
What is peeking here?
Apparently, it's The Monkey (a rather odd one I must admit).
The Tiger (fierce-looking but also rather faded) with The Ox behind.
The Horse, with Ganesha behind.
The Deer.., but as far as I know there's no such animal in the Thai zodiac menagerie!
Definitely not part of the zodiac: The Hermit!
The Ox with The Deer in the back.
Another oddity, although elephants are part of Thai culture, they don't really belong in the zodiac!
However in some North Thai temples, The Pig is replaced by The Elephant, but here both are featured...
Another Horse, ready for battle?
One more that doesn't really belong, The Lion, complete with a four-armed Shiva.
Classic Chinese style big belly Buddha...
And one more Ox/Buffalo, this time with another four-armed Shiva...
The Naga, the Thai version of The Dragon.
The Rabbit (not the eastern bunny).
And here is a more classic style Snake!
The Ox again...
As you can see it's a large temple complex!
The zodiac animals can be found in the Ubot, number 1 (๑), top right building.
When entering through the door on the left, the statues are arranged as follows:
Big belly Buddha, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Naga, Snake, Thai Mother Earth (Phra Mae Thoranee), Lion, Horse, Ox, Elephant, Hermit, Deer, Ox, Tiger, Ganesha, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, and assorted Buddhas.
Why 3 oxen, 2 horses, and 2 tigers? And those non -zodiac animals? Good questions! Perhaps due to their different riders?
If you have any ideas, please let me know!