Wat Phananchoeng, Ayutthaya, Thailand

220+ high-definition creative commons photographs from this temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand, which has a famous Buddha statue and some very fine reliefs illustrating the Ramakien, together with further information.

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many thanks to Mrs. Chanya P. Depaul who made the translations of the titles; where they cannot be read they are marked with an ellipsis (...)

 

 

Characters from the Ramakien Reliefs


 


 

 

Stories from the Ramakien Reliefs


 

 

Wat Phananchoeng

Signboard

Wat Phra Chao Phananchoeng is in the southeast part of the city near the Pasak river. It was built in 1324 A.D., 26 years before King Ramathibodi I (U Thong) founded Ayutthaya, although it is not known by whom this temple was built. Phra Chao Phananchoeng, a large seated Buddha image constructed of brick and mortar, has been well known for a long time. King Naresuen the Great repaired it once, and the other kings of Ayutthaya must have kept it in good repair too. From the chronicles we can learn that when Ayutthaya was taken by the Burmese tears flowed from the eyes of this statue.

The first king of the Chakri Dynasty (Rama I) and some of his successors repaired the image, and towards the end of 1854 A.D., King Mongkut (Rama IV) completely renovated the image and renamed it Phra Bhudhtrairatananayok. On 21 December 1901, during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the outer garment of Phra Chao Phananchoeng caught fire and the image was damaged in many parts. King Chulalongkorn commanded craftsmen to repair the image, and this was completed in 1902 A.D.

On 15 March 1928, the cheeks and the lower jaws of the image broke into pieces. The Royal institute had it repaired in 1929. At that time Phra Dhammatrailok, the abbot of this monastery, collected the bits of gold leaf left by the devotees inside the viharn and gathered 165 grams of gold. Other devotees contributed another 690 grams of gold. With these 855 grams of gold the head of the monastery made a new ornament for the forehead and substituted it for the older one which was of copper plated with gold.

Phra Chao Phananchoeng is held in respect by the Thai people when they visit Ayutthaya, they offer worship to this image and obtain predictions of their fortune in the temple. Phra Chao Phananchoeng is in the posture of subduing Mara. It measures 14.25 meters from knee to knee and 19 meters in height (including the ornament above the head).

Although most people come here to pay their respects to the statue, on the lower outside wall there is a particularly fine set of reliefs made in stucco and wire. They include a cast of characters on the North wall, and stories from the epic, which begin in the middle of the East Wall and move clockwise round the temple. I photographed nearly all of them over a period of two days, and present them here. They are somewhat neglected and have suffered some damage in places.

 

Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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