Wat Hua Krabue

Welcome to Wat Hua Krabue, the Temple of the Water Buffalo Head! We visited Wat Hua Krabue recently, enticed by the public domain photos we saw on the internet, such as these:

The story of Wat Hua Krabue is that the chief abbot decided to create a memorial to the Asian water buffalo, which has seen a rapid decline in population as farming has become more mechanized and people have increased their consumption of buffalo meat. The abbott began collecting skulls from nearby farms and slaughterhouses, and – according to one website – now has a collection of over 8,000 skulls that he will use to create a museum to the animal. The abbot apparently has a penchant for collecting things: originally, he collected old Mercedes Benz cars. When we showed up, his collection of votive figures was well in evidence.

Some temples include figures that stand outside and offer the “wai” – a bow with the hands pressed together – to visitors while a greeting plays on a loop from a speaker. For some reason, one of them is dressed like the King of Pop. Meanwhile, a disturbingly realistic monk statue holds a bowl for alms.
That same monk again, seated near the real thing. Or you can offer prayers to, well, whoever these four represent. And for some reason, there is a soldier figure hiding behind some animals.

The temple seems to be pretty syncretic; you can leave offerings in front of the deities of your choice.

Some people, however, prefer to worship Mammon.

But let’s get to the buffalo heads. We asked a two people who worked on the temple grounds where we could find them, but they couldn’t tell us; finally, someone pointed us to a pile of old skulls under a tree near a garbage tip.

The next week, I asked a Thai friend to call the temple and ask where they were. According to her report, the temple decided to move the skulls to the back of the temple, and when they did, some of them were damaged and thrown onto the heap. We never found the rest of them, so I’ll have to look the next time I’m out that way.