Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

The next day I visited Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham or simply Wat Mai, which is the biggest Budhhist temple in Luang Prabang. The name Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham means The New Monastery of the Golden Land. Its most notable feature is its wonderful gilded facade

20120127_2740_Wat-Mai-gilded-facade

20120127_2744_Wat-Mai-gilded-facade
detail

20120127_2741_Wat-Mai-gilded-facade
main doors in the gilded facade

20120127_2737_Wat-Mai
more stencilwork

20120127_2749_Wat-Mai-Buddha
Buddha figures in the main sim

It is not possible to take photographs inside the actual building comprising the Royal Palace but we were able to visit it and it provided a fascinating glimpse into a way of life long past. In the grounds of the Palace is the very ornate building of Wat Ho Pha Bang which was built in 1993.

20120127_2755_Wat-Ho-Pha-Bang

20120128_2905_cat
the naga staircase leading up to Wat Ho Pha Bang

20120127_2766_Wat-Ho_Pha-Bang
interior of Wat Ho Pha Bang

I went to visit the Xieng Thong temple round the corner from the guesthouse, which was supposed to be the most spectacular in Luang Prabang. The Wat Xieng Thong, “monastery of the golden city”, is the religious emblem of Luang Prabang and one of the highest symbols of Buddhism in Laos. Located close to the tip of the Luang Prabang peninsula, where the Nam Khan flows into the Mekong River, Wat Xieng Thong was built by King Setthathirath in 1560, during the golden years of Lan Xang Kingdom. Its gracefully sloping roof and glass murals epitomise the classical Luang Prabang style of temple architecture. Unfortunately the main building was being restored so you couldn’t go in it but the rest was pretty spectacular. On the back of the main building is a mosaic of a tree of life.

20120128_2906_Wat-Xieng-Thong-entrance
the city entrance to Wat Xieng Thong

20120128_2862_guardian-cat
this fierce-looking cat guards the steps at the river entrance

20120128_2871_main-sim
front of the main sim

20120128_2874_wat-Xieng-Thong-main-sim
detail of the main entrance

20120131_3347_tree-of-life-mosaic
rear of the main sim with its beautiful tree of life mosaic

20120128_2860_tree-of-life-mosaic
detail of the mosaic

Next to the sim of Wat Xieng Thong is a smaller building which the French called La Chapelle Rouge, (English -the Red Chapel). Inside it is a unique reclining black Buddha image with the robe curling outward at the ankle. On the outside of the Red Chapel is an interesting mural showing rural life in Laos.

20120128_2848_reclining-Buddha

20120128_2842_red-chapel-wall

Facing the same courtyard, is another ornate structure with a façade that is richly carved and layered in gold leaf. This structure houses the funerary chariot of King Sisavong Vang, built in 1960. The funerary chariot occupies almost the whole of the interior. At the back of the building are a some Buddhist figures in the standing pose as well as one in the “calming the flood” pose, each one of them has a different face.

20120128_2877_chariot-hall

20120128_2891_calling-for-rain-Buddhas

20120128_2897_funeral-hall-interior
view of the mosaic and stencilled walls behind the Buddha figures

20120128_2905_cat
oops, I can’t quite reach that spot – one of the few cats I saw in Luang Prabang, just outside the main entrance to Wat Xieng Thong

Advertisements

Please let me know what you think about this post, I welcome your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: