Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wat Phananchoeng : Ayutthaya

Wat Phananchoeng is in the southern part of the city near the river. It was built in 1324 A.D., 26 year before king U-thong founded Ayutthaya, although it is not known by whom this temple was built. Phra Chao Phananchoeng, a large sitting Buddha constructed of brick and mortar, has been well known of a long time. King Naresuen the Great repaired it once, and the other Kings of Ayudhya must keep it in good repair too, though no mention is made of that in the chronicle, from which it is learnt only that when Ayudhya was taken by the Burmese tears flowed from the eyes of this image.

Later on the first king of the Chakri Dynasty and some of his successors repaired the image and towards the end of 1854 A.D., King Mongkut completely renovated the image and renamed it Phra Bhudh-trai-ratana nayok. On the 21st December 1901, during the reignof King Chulalongkorn, the outer garment of Phra Chao Phanan-cheng caught fire and the image was damaged in many places. King Chulalongkorn commanded the image to be repaired, and the work was finished in 1902 A.D.

On the 15th 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 Dhamatri-lok the abbot of this monastery, on collecting the bits of gold leaves left by the devotees inside the Vihara gathered 165 grammes of that metal, 690 grammes of gold were contributed by others. With these 855 grammes of gold the head of the monastery made an "Una-lom" (ornament for the forehead substituted it for the older one which was of copper plated with gold).

Phra Chao Phananchoeng is held in respect by the Thai people who, when they visit ayutthaya, offer worship to this image and obtain prediction of their luck from its Vihara. Tourists who do not visit this temple miss the opportunity of seeing one of the very large, old and beautiful images. No Photographs of this image too are to be found in any book or even in the National Museum, where there is a collection of photographs of all other important images of the Buddha, because there is not enough room within the Vihara to set the camera at the proper distance to get a complete picture of this large image.

Phra Chao Phananchoeng is an image in the posture of subduing Mara. It measures 14 meters and 25 centimeters from knee to knee and 19 meters high (including the ornament above the head).


[photo credit to dhammathai.org]

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