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June 13, 2013

【Thai Temples】Wat Maha Pruettharam

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Wat Maha Pruettharam Worawihan (Thai: วัดมหาพฤฒารามวรวิหาร) in Bang Rak, Bangkok, is a 3rd-class royal temple of the "Worawiharn" grade. Built in the period of Ayutthata Kingdom, the original name of the temple included "Wat Tha Kwian" and "Wat Takian", "takian" in Thai indicates Hopea odorata tree, which grew in the neighborhood of the temple.

King Rama IV, as a monk, had come to Wat Maha Pruettharam to hold the kasaya(robe)-offering ceremony. Phra Athikarn Khaew, the abbot at that time, foretold that he would become a king. King Rama IV promised to build a new temple if the abbot's prophecy came true. After King Rama IV was enthroned, the abbot was conferred as a member of Phra Racha Khana with the title Phra Maha Preutthachan. The temple was renovoated, renamed "Wat Maha Pruettharam", and ranked as a royal temple by King Rama IV between 2397 BE to 2409 BE (AD 1854 to AD 1866).

Art in Architecture

The ubosot (ordination hall) is built like a sala (open pavilion). On the pitched double roof, the phoenix-head-shaped "Chofa" (Thai: ช่อฟ้า, gable apex) and the "Bairaka" (Thai: ใบระกา, ridges on the sloping edges of a gable, representing the fin on the back of Naga) are the beautiful ornaments. The image on the "Na Ban" (Thai: หน้าบัน, pediment) depicts a 3-headed elephant shouldered a two-tier tray on which placed a throne, representing King Rama IV's building the temple.

The subject of the mural in Wat Maha Pruettharam, different from those in other temples which depict stories of Buddha's previous lives or related stories, is about "The 13 Ascetic Practices of Buddhist Monks (Dhutanga)" and stories of Buddha's preaching sermons in Sri Lanka, and uses amazing 3D mural painting.

The gold-plated Reclining Buddha statue in Wat Maha Pruettharam is made of concrete, and belongs to Rattanakosin art (Bangkok style). Body length 19.25m, chest width 3.25 m, abdominal width 2m, the size of this Reclining Buddha Statue ranks the 2nd among Reclining Buddha Statues in Bangkok, only second to the statue in Wat Pho.

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