Thai temple art and architecture


Thai temple art and architecture

This article on Thai Temple Art and Architecture discusses Buddhist temples in Thailand.

Introduction

A typical "Wat Thai" (loosely translated as monastery or temple) has two enclosing walls that divide it from the secular world. The monks' or nuns' quarters or dormitories are situated between the outer and inner walls. This area may also contain a bell tower or "hor rakang". In larger temples, the inner wall may be lined with Buddha images and serve as cloisters or galleries for meditation. This part of the temple is called "buddhavasa" or "phutthawat" (for the Buddha).

Inside the inner walls is the "bot" or "ubosoth" (ordination hall), surrounded by eight stone tablets and set on consecrated ground. This is the most sacred part of the temple and only monks can enter it. The bot contains a Buddha image, but it is the "viharn" (assembly hall) that contains the principal Buddha images. Also, in the inner courtyard are the bell-shaped "chedi" (relic chambers), which contain the relics of pious or distinguished people. "Salas" (rest pavilions) can be found all around the temple; the largest of these area is the "sala kan parian" (study hall), used for saying afternoon prayers.

Popular Temple Icons

During the 10th century, the Theravada Buddhism and Hindu cultures merged, and Hindu elements were introduced into Thai iconography. Popular figures include the four-armed figure of Vishnu; the garuda (half man, half bird); the eight-armed Shiva; elephant-headed Ganesh; the naga, which appears as a snake, dragon or cobra; and the ghost-banishing giant Yak.

Icon Examples

1. Wat Phra Kaew: The temple of the Emerald Buddha is one of the most impressive examples of Thai temple art, and one of the world's great religious buildings.Fact|date=March 2007

2. Symbolic Roof Decor: The ordination hall roof of Wat is adorned with a carving of a mythical "garuda" grasping two "naga" in its talons.

"Thai Temple Roof in Thailand."

3. Chedi: Wat Po in Bangkok has 95 "chedi". They contain the ashes of royalty, monks and lay people. The four large chedi are memorials to Thai kings.

"Chedi at Wat Po, Bangkok, Thailand."

4. The Cloisters: The cloisters are lined by many seated bronze Buddhas dating from the past reign of Thai Royal Family.

"The Cloisters at Thai temples."

5. Singha Head: Fierce-looking bronze "singha" (mythical lions) stand guard outside the ordination hall.

"The Stucco Lion at Thai temples."

ee also

*
*

External links

* [http://www.dhammathai.org/watthai/watthai_e.php Wat Thai: Dhammathai]
* [http://sunsite.au.ac.th/thailand/Thai_Arts/archi.html Thai Arts: Architecture]
* [http://www.thaiworldview.com/wat/wat3.htm Thai Temples]
* [http://www.speakingthai.com/stories/grand%20palace.htm Thai Stories]
* [http://www.thai-architecture.com/index.html Thai Architecture]
* [http://www.thapra.lib.su.ac.th/objects/rarebook/r35/na3578_7ก1พ43.pdf Buddhist Art: Architecture Pt.1]

Further reading

* Karl Döhring, Buddhist Temples of Thailand: An Architectonic Introduction, White Lotus, 2000. ISBN 974-7534-40-1

References

1. Discovery Channel by Scott Rutherford, "Insight Guides: Thailand.", APA Publications GmbH & Co., 2004.

2. Discovery Channel by Steve Van Beek, "Insight Pocket Guide: Thailand.", APA Publications GmbH & Co., 2004.

3. Maria Grazia Casella and Paola Piacco, "Thailand: Nature and Wonders.", Asia Books Co,.Ltd., 2004.

4. John Hoskin and Gerald Cubitt, "This is Thailand.", Asia Books Co.,Ltd., 2003


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