A photo session by a Chinese woman, dressed in traditional Han attire, at Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun has not only sparked the ire of the temple’s owner but has also led to a controversy online.
Although the Chinese photography team involved say they gained prior permission to shoot at the temple, the temple’s owner Chalermchai Kositpipat found certain poses (particularly ones in which the woman was seen lying on her side) as objectionable.
The temple’s owner then went on to demonstrate what poses would be considered decent and acceptable at the temple.
Chalermchai, who designed Wat Rong Khun, popularly known as the White Temple, said that most of the photos were beautiful, and had helped promote the temple and Thai religious culture. However, he added that one shouldn’t be “disrespectful to our art, and our religion.”
Earlier in February this year, Chalermchai ordered staff to ban Chinese tourists after staff found they had defecated in an ornate golden building and dropped used loo roll in water tanks, but lifted the ban after just half a day when disappointed Chinese tourists complained.
People on social media in China seem divided. Some are arguing that it is important for tourists to be sensitive when it comes to other cultures, while others believe that it was the temple authorities’ job to have clarified matters in advance.
“We should mind our manners when going abroad, especially in countries like Thailand with devout religious belief,” said Sina Weibo user @Aron-dalao.
“Han costumes are beautiful, but should not be displayed in a Thai temple, just as Chinese people may not be happy if a Japanese girl wearing a Kimono poses for pictures in the Forbidden City,” said Sina Weibo user @liebeiyingying.
“I see nothing wrong in the pictures. The owner was nitpicking,” said @qinggongzaihaoyizhuanpaidao on Weibo.
“The owner can explain the taboos in advance, rather than condemn the girl after the fact,” said @wuchennew on Weibo.