Thai Buddhist temple or monastery is not just one building, but a collection of buildings, shrines, and monuments within a courtyard
that is enclosed by a wall. Around 30,000 Buddhist temples are consecrated in Thailand. Thai Temples have very architectural
design and style in all Thailand areas. A temple, which may include not only congregation halls but also a monastery, shrines,
school and sports grounds etc.
A Thai temple, with few exceptions, consists of two parts: The Phuttha-wat and the Sangha-wat.
Structures of Temple and Temple's Glossary
The Phutthawat is the area which is dedicated to Buddha. It generally contains several buildings:
Sometimes translated as stupa or even pagoda. This generally bell-shaped tower will usually contain a relic of the Buddha,
but may also be built to contain the ashes of a king or important monk. The bell-shaped chedi evolved during the golden age
Prang (Phra Prang)
A prang is a tall finger-like spire, usually richly carved. This was a common feature of Khmer religious architecture
and was later adopted by Thai builders, typically in the Ayutthaya and Bangkok periods. In Thailand it appears only
with the most important religious buildings.
The first Prangs in Thailand were built e.g. in Phimai and Khao Phnom Rung and Lopburi between the early 10th century
and the late 12th century, when the Khmer kingdom was dominant. They influenced the old Khmer architect, who also built great temple
complexes such as Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, remarkably resembling north Indian temples, whose Sikhara ("temple towers",
also called Rekha) the Khmer prangs remarkably resemble.
A "more modern" Prang is a slim construction, like an ear of corn, which lets its Khmer origin be only suspected.
The best example is Wat Arun, the landmark of Bangkok. Also Wat Phra Kaeo has six thin Prangs arranged in a row.
Another example is the four Prangs arranged in all four directions around Wat Pho in Bangkok,
and the five Prangs in Wat Pichayart in Thonburi.
Bot or Ubosot
The Bot (also called Ubosot) is the ordination hall of a Wat. It is the place where new monks take their vows. You can recognize a building
as a Bot by the six boundary stones (Bai Sema) that define the limits of its sanctuary. Bots are usually open only to the monks.
The building faces east and usually houses an altar and one or several Buddha images. The hornlike finial on the roof ridge is called the chofa,
representing the head of the garuda.
Wihan or Wihara
It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks
during the rainy season. It house important buddha images and are where the laity come to pray. While there will always
only be one Bot in a temple, there can be several Wihan.
The Phra Mondop
was the first building built of the upper terrace. The Ho Phra Monthien Tham, a sort of library, originally stood on the site,
but was burned down by fireworks soon after the temple was built. King Rama I decided to have the Mondop built in place
of the Ho Phra Monthien Tham to house the revised edition of the Buddhist Canon.
The Phra Mondop is a copy of the mondop covering the Buddha's Footprint in Saraburi province. The walls of the Phra Mondop
are covered in green mirrored tiles inlaid with gold medallions depicting Buddha. The base of the walls are lined with two rows
of small gilded guardian angels, each one slightly different.
At the four corners of the Phra Mondop are stone Buddhas carved in the nineth century Javanese style. Sixteen twelve-cornered
columns support the intricate multi-tier roof. The Phra Mondop is never open to the public.
A Ho Trai
A ho trai is the library of a Thai Buddhist temple and can come in different shapes and sizes. For many centuries, the sacred
Tripitaka scriptures had been written on palm leaves. To preserve the scriptures against humidity and against termites,
the library was often built on columns to raise the storage from the ground. Bricks were preferably used in constructions
to battle termites. Sometimes the Ho trai would be built, especially for this reason, above man-made ponds.
Traditionally, the Tripitaka scriptures consisted of individual palm leaves, each measuring around 50 cm in length
and around 4 to 6 cm in width. They were perforated and threaded in order to combine them in stacks of 20 to 40 pages.
These stacks are kept pressed between two pieces of teakwood which is then wrapped in cloth and stored in a special bookcase.
These bookcases are sometimes exquisitely crafted with mother-of-pearl inlay or with gold leaf applied on black lacquer.
Beautiful examples of bookcases can be seen in the Bangkok National Museum. Modern Tripitaka are now printed as books.
Sala Kan Parien
This is an open pavilion, used as a meeting place and to protect people from sun and rain. Most are open on all four sides.
They are found throughout Thailand in Buddhist temple areas, or Wats, although they can also be located in other places.
A person who builds a sala at a temple or in a public place gains religious merit. A sala located in a temple is called a salawat.
Some temples have large salas where laity can hear sermons or receive religious instructions.
These are called sala kan parian (pavilion where monks learn for the Parian examination).
In old time the Buddhist Doctrine was taught to the laymen only in the Sala Kan Parien, which usually is a common room differing
in size according to the needs. Only few Wats have large Sala Kan Parien and in this case they have the same form of Bots or Viharas.
In some cases the Sala Kan Parien are overelevated about two metres from the ground.
Bell Tower (Ho Rakhang)
Ho Rakhang (Ho rakang; Thai หอระฆัง), in English, the bell tower or bellfry. Most of the temples will have bell or drum tower to call the faithful.
The bell is sounded (but not in Mechelen ...) to announce the time in the morning and the evening. An important moment is 11 o'clock
when the last meal of the monks is announced. In the temples in the East we see, besides the bell tower, a drum tower (Thai: ho klong).
Often the bell and the drum are combined in the same small building. The pictures on the left show an example in
Wat Ban Nong Pla Keng (Si Sa Ket province, Thailand) with, as often is the case, the bell made in wood.
A nice example can be found on the Wat Kham Chanot
is the double cloister of Wat Pho. Installed in the cloisters are seated as well as standing buddha statues. There are 150 Buddha statues
on the inner side of the cloister and another 244 on the outer side. Today, all these Buddha statues are gilded with gold leaves
and encased in glass frames to protect them from birds, bats and the elements. On each side of the cloister is a vihara, or chapel.
On the east vihara is the statue of the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree or Pang Marnvichai. Also in the east vihara is a standing Buddha
called Phra Buddha Lokanart Sartsadajarn. This is the Enlightened Buddha and is called Phra Buddha Lokanart Sartsadajarn.
It was brought here from Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya. The stellae documenting the establishment of Wat Pho is also kept here.
In the south vihara is the statue of Buddha bringing his first sermon to his five disciples. In the north vihara is the statue
of a seated Buddha called Phra Paleylai. In the west vihara is the statue of the Buddha called Pang Nak Prok,
where he is seated under the hooded naga.
The Sanghawat (Thai: เขตสังฆาวาส) contains the living quarters of the monks. It also lies within the wall surrounding the whole temple compound.
The sanghawat area can have the following buildings:
Kutis are the cells of the monks. Here and meditieren they sleep. All Thai temples (Wade) have an own living range for Bhikkhus (Monks),
in which no further holy buildings may be. An exception forms for that Wade to Phra Kaeo in Bangkok. Here no monks live,
since they may not establish themselves within palace walls. The living range (Thai mostly lies: Sanghawat) southern the
“holy range” (Thai: Putthawat), in which the sanctified buildings are. There are also some temples,
with which the Sanghawat lies east of the Putthawat.
The monks of a temple are in groups from approximately six to ten persons, so-called. Khanas summarized.
The director/conductor of such a group is called Chao Khana. About ten of such groups are again under the line
one Raja Khana summarized. The highest Raja Khana has the title Somdet Raja Khana.
He is at the same time an abbott of the temple.
Traditions about nagas are also very common in all the Buddhist countries of Asia. In many countries, the naga concept
has been merged with local traditions of great and wise serpents or dragons. In Tibet, the naga was equated with the klu,
wits that dwell in lakes or underground streams and guard treasure. In China, the naga was equated with the long or Chinese dragon.
Old Text (A Sala is an open-sided pavilion. Some Viharns are built in this style.)
The Buddhist naga generally has the form of a great cobra-like snake, usually with a single head but sometimes with many.
At least some of the nagas are capable of using magic powers to transform themselves into a human semblance.
In Buddhist painting, the naga is sometimes portrayed as a human being with a snake or dragon extending over his head.
One naga, in human form, attempted to become a monk; when telling it that such ordination was impossible,
the Buddha told it how to ensure that it would be reborn a man, able to become a monk.
In the 'Devadatta' chapter of the Lotus Sutra, an eight year old female Naga, after listening to Manjushri preach the Lotus Sutra,
transforms her body into that of a male human and immediately reaches full enlightenment. This narrative reinforces the ironic
viewpoint prevalent in Mahayana scriptures that a male human body is required for Buddhahood, even if a being is
so advanced in her realization that she can magically transform her body at will and demonstrate the emptiness
of the physical form itself.
Is the name of a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, who are caretakers of the natural treasures hidden
in the earth and tree roots. They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology.
In Buddhist mythology, the yaksa are the attendants of Vaisravana, the Guardian of the Northern Quarter, a beneficent god
who protects the righteous. The term also refers to the Twelve Heavenly Generals who guard Bhaisajyaguru,
the Medicine Buddha.
According to the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya encountered the royalty of the Yakkhas. King Maha Kalasena, Queen Gonda
on the celebration of the marriage of their daughter Princess Polamitta in the Yakkha capital of Lankapura and conquered them.
Lankapura may have been in Arithra or Vijithapura. The Yakkhas served as loyal subjects with the Vijiyan dynasty
and the Yakkha cheiftan sat on equal height to the Sri Lankan leaders on festival days.
Although there are numerous appearance of Hongsa in Thai architectures, little is known about its origin. From ancient murals,
pictures, and sculptures, Hongsa share similar traits as a swan. In Hindu religion, Hongsa is also the vehicle of lord Brahma.
Lion Stone Sculpture
Lion Stone Sculpture
The Lion is one of Buddhism's most potent symbols. Traditionally, the lion is associated with regality, strength and power.
It is therefore an appropriate symbol for the Buddha who tradition has it was a royal prince. The Buddha's teachings are sometimes
referred to as the 'Lion's Roar', again indicative of their strength and power.