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THAI TEMPLES

The "WIHARN" is a public place for all. The "BOT" is reserved for monks religious rites. Normally, the "BOT" is smaller than the "WIHARN". In big royal temples, several "WIHARN" buildings can be found. In many smaller temples, there is no "WIHARN" and only a "BOT".

bot
The eight boundary stones ("SIMA" - สีมา) around the "BOT" indicate that the building has been consecrated and can be used for monks religious rites.
Bot

Any Buddhist religious ceremonies cannot happen in a "BOT" until it has not been consecrated. This ceremony is called "FANG LUUK NIMIT" (ฝังลูกนิมิต).

The building called "BOT" is usually the finest building in a Thai Buddhist monastery.
bot
Bot

Thai "BOT" are often surrounded by a wall. During the day time doors are opened. But in the evening when rites are finished, "BOT" doors are closed. Buddha statues are often made of gold. Some non Buddhist people don't hesitate to steal them. During day time doors might be closed in remote temples. Then if visitors ask the authorization to the abbot, a monk opens the "BOT" doors.

bot
The inside walls of "BOT" are often covered with beautiful Buddhist paintings. They often represent Buddha's previous lifes ("JAKATA" - ชาดก).
Bot

Often little walls that surround the "BOT" contain small niches. Those niches contain the ashes of the deceased persons. On the external side a plaque indicates the name.

Both the "BOT" and the "WIHARN" contain a presiding Buddha image and usually several smaller attendant statues. Some statues are so well known that Thai people come from far away in order to worship them. In Thailand, there are more Buddha statues than inhabitants (60 Millions). Buddha statues follow a precise set of positions. These positions have not changed since centuries.
bot
Bot

The highest worshipped Buddha in Thailand is the Emerald Buddha in the Royal temple "WAT PHRA KAEW" (วัดพระแก้ว) in Bangkok. The largest one can be foun in "WAT PO" (วัดโพธิ์) in Bangkok. Some statues are supposed to answer to wishes and possess exceptional spiritual powers.

Bot
The "BOT" may contain the most sacred Buddha sculpture. It is often closed when not in use. The building may be quite small and tucked away in a corner.
Bot
Roof of "BOT" is often made of red tiles. The number of stack of roofs are always odd ( 3, 5, 7, 9 ). Odd number are supposed to be lucky. "CHO FA" (ช่อฟ้า) are elongated and elaborately carved apex of the gable of a Buddhist temple. It is believed to represent the mythical Garuda.
Roof
Roof

To ward off bad spirits, there are monster figures guarding doorways. Those figures can be Nagas, Singhas, Kinnari, Hongse.

Hongse
The Hongse is a mythical swan-like creature, the mount of the god Brahma. It is often seen as a decoration for ornamental gates or standing on a tall pole in front of the "WIHARN".
Hongse
In front of the "BOT" entrance there are often "Naga" (นาค). Naga was the serpent who did protect Buddha when he was meditating. Sometimes Buddhist deities or lotus are built instead of "NAGA".
Naga
Naga
Singhas
In front of the "BOT" entrance there are often "Singhas" (สิงห์). They represent strength and power. They are usually depicted with mouth half open.
Singhas
In the temple "WAT PHO" (วัดโพธิ์) located in Bangkok, the guardians of the temple are stone statues coming from China and representing Chinese characters or animals. The statues arrive to Bangkok a century ago in boats. They were used to fill empty Thai boats coming back from China after having deliver rice.
Chinese guard
Chinese guard
Yak
Sometimes in front the "BOT" entrance there is a couple of "YAK" (ยักข์), which are huge statues representing giants with big teeth. Those "YAK" are supposed to afraid the spirits or demons who would like to enter the "BOT".
Yak

Huge statues of giants called "YAK" (ยักษ์) stand in front of temples. They intend to frighten the spirits and protect the Buddha statues from the spirits.

The most famous "YAK" in Thailand are located in the Royal temple "WAT PHRA KAEW" (วัดพระแก้ว) in Bangkok. This temple contains the famous Emerald Buddha statue made of jade. It is said that the jade is coming from a mountain where "YAK" are supposed to have been living long ago. It is a rare case where the "YAK" are facing the temple inner.
Yak at WAT PHRA KAEW
Yak at WAT PHRA KAEW
Yak
This "YAK" statue is very small and he is sleeping also! Hopefully he can still frighten the spirits!
Yak


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