History of temple
Thursday, 28 May 2015 03:55
Until the beginning of the XXth century. All building in Luang Prabang were made of wood. The only exception to this rule were the temples, which on the whole. Were built of bricks and mortar. However, of the sixtt five monadteries accounted for in the XVIIIth century, only twenty nine now remain; of these only three ‘’ Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Pak Khane and Vat Khili ‘’ have retained their original structure and decoration. Several resons explain the disappearance of religious monuments in Luang Prabang. Firstly, the climate with its tropical storms and rains had ravaged these light and mostly wooden structures. Then there were the fires which devastated the town on several occasions, particularly the one during the Laotain New Year in 1774. Finally, during of both French and American colonial periods, the reconstruction of several temples to make way for administrative buildings, barracks and housing, and for the expansion of the airport. However, from the various buildings (monasteries, chaples, stupas, temples), the furniture and statuary that are found generall in monasteries up to the present day, it is possible to define the general features of traditional Luang Prabang art, unique in tis kind in Southeast Asia. Each monastery in Luang Prabang is demarcated by a peripheral masonry wall. Doors in the form of prasat – a small, square, tiered and crowned tower, perforated on opposite sides by two large arched bays connected by a continuous passafeway allow access to the sanctuary and its building annexes.
The name of this Vat is derived from its location at the mouth of the Mekong’s tributary, the Nam Khane. Built in 1737 by Phagna Chanthep during the reign of King Inthasom, the preset temple was rebuilt at the beginning of the XXth century. A biulding in the style featuring peripheral nave with three naves and six bays, the Viharn has eight irregularly spaced doors and windows. The two superposed roofs are independent from each other.
THIS Vat whose full name is Vat Souvanna Khili, the Gloden Mountain’’, was built by Chao Kham Sattha, a Phuoane prince from Xieng Khuoang style. This temple, with its original form and décor intact, was constructed in the plain style comprising a single nave anf porch. Its distinctive characteristic lies in the addition of a rear hall and posterior stupa. The double roof over the hall, which is plain and lower than that of the rear hall, features dragon head roof-ridge horns in masonry inlaid with flame shaped glasswork.
Vat Sibouheuang was built in the 18th century Luang Prabang style during the reign of King Sotikakoumane in 1758, during its restoration in the early 1900s, some changes were made to its windows and porch. The Viharn is characterized by its elevated base and simple rood, overlapping in the middle and bordered with roof-horns in glass-inlaid stucco, representing the upper torso of a naga. Originally, the lateral walls and the wall under the porch were decorated with gold stenciled paintings on red backgrounds illustrating the legend of Vessantara Jataka. Unfortunately, the paintings within the Viharn are deteriorating increasingly. However, one can still see very fine Buddha status in the Hiek Fone ‘’Rain Calling’’ attitude, which are good examples of Luang Prabang art of the XVIIIth century.
This Vat is a part of a group of four monasteries grouped along the Luang Prabang main road. According to oral tradition, it was erected by Thene Kham, son of King Chakkaphat Phene Pheo, to commemorate the death of his father who repelled invading forces outside Lan Xang in 1497 and subsequently died from his injuries. Ranking second in the group, it was entirely restored to its original condition in 1909. Erected on an elevated base, this temple was constructed in the simple style with a single porch. The plain roof is decorated with Naga and has no spikes. In 1950, two lateral verandas were added to the base.
Built in 1768 by Pho Ba Hang, this Vat which is no longer in existence, was intergrated into the grounds of Vat Sop.
Founded in 1714 by Ta Tiao Hang during King Kingkitsarath’s reign, Vat Sene is Viharn featuring a single porch and triple nave of four bays with lean-to structures added onto the sided. The viharn is surrounded by eleven small stupas. Most of the restoration work carried out between 1932 and 1936 involved the re-covering of the hall flooring, the decoration of Buddha’s altar, the framework, the door leaves and decorations of the front and porch. The viharn was renovated again in 1957, during Buddha’s 2500th anniversary. The lean-to structures were added to the present structure, which includes five naves and four bays. The three-tiered red and yellow tiled masonry roof now cobers all five bays and slopes downwards to curve inwards on each side.
Constructed in 1729 under Ong Nok’s rule, this ‘’Pond Monastery’’ owes its name to a Buddha’s statue. This 211 kg bronze statue was miraculously spared in the 1774 fire which ravaged the town and the monastery. It was re-constructed in 1804 and features a single nave and porch with square pillars. Façade and pediment decorations were completed by the end of the 19th century.
Oral tradition tells that this Vat was erected during King Chantharath’s reign (1851-1870) by pharagna Sisonxy in 1853. In ancient times, its name, Vat Sieng Mouane or the "Monastery of Melodious Sounds" arose from the harmonies of its drum and gong. It was latter renamed Vat Xieng Mouane or the "Monastery of the Joyous Town"
Built by King Anourout in 1791, the monastery was named for the large Buddha state before which king and dignitaries prayed prior to their departure for warfare. The present Vat, entirely rebuilt in reinforced concrete in 1970. In the simple style featuring a single hall and porch, it has a double bay and lateral verandahs added. The roof is constructed with a change of gradient, Luang Prabang style.
Vat Choum Khong was built by the Venerable Keo in 1843, during the reign of King Soukhaseum. Its name was derived from the Vat’s statue which, as the legend goes, was melted and cast from a bronze gong.
Vat May which means ‘’New Monastery’’ is without doubt one of the finest on Luang Prabang. The Pra Sangkharat, highest Buddhist dignitary in Laos has been residing here since 1894. Built in 1796 by King Anourout, Vat May was given its preent name following the restoration undertaken in 1821 by King Manthatourat. The construction of two colonnaded porches, one in front of the monatery and the other behind, was decreed.
The Vat Pa Khe, the ‘’Monastery of the Forest of Khe trees’’ (Sesbania grandiflora – leguminisase), was built in 1853 by King Chantharat. The Viharn, walls, door frames, roof shape and façade are all in the Vientiane style.
Built at the foot of Phou Si hill facing the former royal palace, Vat Pa Houak is name in honour of the forest which formerly occupied the Viharn’s present site. Built in Vientiane style in 1861 during the reign of King Chantharat, the Viharn was built in the simple style featuring a single hall and porch. The roof, decorated with the upper torso of a na ga, features a change in gradient. Toothed ornamentation on the roof borders are executed in the style of Cambodian pagodas as well as those found in Bangkok. Inside the Viharn, paiting by Laotian artists retrace the Jumbupati_Sutta legend. Chinese influence in recognisable of King Bimbisara who appears as a Chinese dignitary.
Oral traditions tell that Vat Aham was built in 1822 by King Manthatourath near the site xhosen by Fa Ngum, founder of the Kingdom of Lan Xang. The site was selected for the erection of an altar dedicated to the town’s dieties, Pou Gneu Gna Gneu. In the temple style, the temple features a single nave, two porches without lateral galleries. It is cover by a double-layered roof decorated with naga-headed roof-horns. Vat Aham is a find example of XIXth century religious constraution in Luang Prabang.
Before its partial destracution in the fire that blazed tgrough the town in 1887, and prior to its restoration by King Sakharine Khamsouk in 1891, Vat Vixun was one of the most imposing monasteries of the old royal town. Built between 1515 and 1515, during the reign of King Vixun Harath, legend has it that no less than 4.000 tress were used for its construction. 12 pillars each 30 meters high and 1.30 meters in diameter, supproted its roof. Displayed inside the Viharn is one of the biggest Buddha statues in stucco and gilded masonry in Luang Prabang. A most beuatiful collection of stelai, statues abd ancient objects, especially XIth and XIIth century Khmer pieces which can be viewed today at the National Museum; was to be found at the Vat Vixun between 1942 and 1975; when it was the Museum of religious arts. The surrounding walls of Vat Vixun are punctuated by four gates in the form of three-tiered prasat and crowned with a bowl of lotus flowers. On the temple grounds stands a stands a square monument surmounted by a semi-spherical dome – That Pathoum, the ‘’stupa of the Great Lotus’’, better known to the people of Luang Prabang as That Mark Mo, the watermelon stupa’’. Erected between 1514 and 1515, its semi-spherical form is of such an exceptional type that no other Indochinese countries. After more than tree years of work, the monument’s reconstraution was completed in 1932. the semi-spherical body stands on various tiers of differing shapes and is crowned by an Usnisa (cranial protuberance) of the Laotian Buddhist type.
The ‘’Monastery of Ten Thousand Rice Fields’’ is named in commemoration of the contribution of one meun (a unit of weight, equivalent to 12 kg) of rice from the ricefield of each villager at the time of its constraution in 1533, during the reign of King Pothisarath. Originally, the Vat consisted of a Viharn in the temple style featuring a single nave anf porch, a stupa and a vaulted chapel. In 1920, it was restored to its original state. Two lateral galleries were added to the Viharn in 1949. The decorations in gold relief of the front and rear pediments represent a praying diety on a three-headed elephant. The previous lives of Buddha are depicted on both the external and the internal walls.
This is the oldest bronze statue in Luang Prabang and in Laos. Created betwenn 1378 and 1397 during the King Sam Sen Thai, the Buddha statue weighed, according to a stone inscription, ‘’nine million seven hundred thousand sang’’, or approximately twele tons, and measured almost 6 meters in height: 1.90 meters for the head and 4 neters for the bust. During the plundering of the town in 1887, the Buddha statue was eviscerated and partially destroyed. It was re-erected in 1919 and subsequently restored in 1971. the missing members (arms and legs), were repair in cement, lacquered and coated with gold leaf.
Named in honour of the ceremony presided over by King Setthathirath in 1548 when Vat That’s viharn’s site was chosen, this monastery is also known as Vat Hor Sieng. Founded in 1705 by Khouane Sene Muxa, the monastery was destroyed by a storm in April 1900. Re-built in 1923, tha vat is in the simple style featuring a single hall and porch. Side veradas were added in 1952, giving it the characteristic of viahrn with a surrounding veranda. Restoration in 1973 has rendered the pediment pillars octagonal embellished with gilded leaf capitals. An t=interesting item to take note of is a gilded wooden Buddha in the oumbat attitude. ( abowl hold against the breast), a rarity in Laotian iconography.
Vat Viharn was found in 1584 during the reign of King Say Setthathirath. The bid stupa that has lent its name to the monastery was built by King Saya Setththirath’s mother. The original viharn collapsed during a storm in 1900 and was re-built between 1907 and 1910 by Chao Maha Oupahat Boun Kong. The monastery has a peripheral veranda, two-layered roof and a one-headed naga. Completely restored from 1963 on, it now features a roof with a single change of gradient. Behind the viharn is a stupa built in the mid-XVIth century. Vat that is one of the most important places for the celebration of the Laotian New Year. On the third day of Pimay (the day when tutelary diety of the year arrives), the superiors of Vat May, Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Aham and Vat Vixun arrive by palanquin in a solemn procession to attend the sacared dance of the town’s guardian spirits, Pou Gneu Gna Gneu.
Built on the knoll in 1818 by King Manthatourath, the monastery comprised the viharn and two large stupas. The present viharn is in the style featuring a peripheral nave with three naves ans nine bays. Before 1975, Vat That Laung was the center for the cremation of the highest dignitaries of the royal family.
A viharn in the simple style a porch, three naves and four bays, Vat Sangkhalok was built in 1527 by King Pothisarath and restored in 1909 by King Sisavang Vong. Oral tradition tells that the vat was built on marshlands where a legendary conch-dragon lived. Aprt from the viharn, there are six monk’s dormitories, two stupas and s drum shelter within its grounds these were formerly enclosed by a wall with four entrances. Vat Sngkhalok was one of the most important places for the celebration of the Laotian New Year. The authorities of that period gathered here for the ritual sprinking of the Buddha status and to observe the Pou Gneu Gna Gneu dance.
The ‘’Monastery of the Khoun Stream’’ is in the simple style featuring a single hall and porch. It was built most probably at two different peroids. The rear part which is the older one, dates from the early XIXth century. The square pillared portico that originally had no capitals, was built in 1937 during the reing of the King Sisavang Vong. The last retoration was carried out in 1994. apart from murals on the external walls portraying the ten scens of the Ten Jakata of Buddha, the interesting character of the vat lies in its formerly important role during the king’s coronation. The king usually enjoyed a three-day retreat here before arriving at the town at Vat Xieng Thong’s landing-stage, on the eve of his coronation.
This vat stands to the north of the Nam Khan, outside the city.from its style which is similar to that of Vat Xieng Lek, it can be inferred that Vat Xang Khong was built at the end of the XIXth century.
The vuharn has remained intact since its establishment and is of the simple type with a single hall and porch.
This vat is located outside the city to the north of the Num Khane. The main stupa stands on a hillock nehind the vat and was built by King Ong Nok around the middle of the XVIIIth century. The viharn was founded by a nobleman from Luang Prabang, Phya Hom Sombat, in 1896. its original structure in the style featuring a single hall and porch, and simple double-layered roofing, was preserved during restoration work done in 1921.
The founding dated of the monastery is unknown but the style is similar to that of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. In the simple style featuring a single hall and porch, it was demolished in 1948. two lateral galleries were added during the resonstruction which began in 1951. the interesting feature of this monastery is a strang-looking chaple in the form of a prasat sheltering some Buddha statues – two of which are in the posture ‘’Calling on the Earth as witness’’. This small chapel is placed on the monastery’s altar. Local information has it that they were brought from Muang Gnou near the Lao’Vietnamese border.
three-tiered base with lotus_flower markers in the four corners. The main body of the stupa itself is square with four seven-tiered bronze parasols in its corners. Form foot to tip, the stupa measures twenty-one meters. A terrace at the foot of the stupa offers an unrivalled panoramic view of the town.
Originally built by King Anourout in 1804, it was restored in 1914 and again in 1936 when the 328-step staircase was built. One of the interesting aspects of Phou Si hill lies in the legend that surrounds it.
According to legend, Pak Ou was built by King Say Setthathirath in 1547, although the viharn, religious buildings, carved decorations of the pediment and doors are in the 18th and 19th century styles. Since its reconstruction under the rule of King Sisavang Vong at the beginning of the XXth century, the viharn was expanded by the addition of lean-to structures.
Vat Pa Phay’s “ Monastery of the bamboo forest “ date of construction is unknown.
L.Finot and H. Parmentier placed it under the reign of Suryavongsa, in 1645, but Chao Khammanh Vongkot Rattana, historiorapher of Luang Prabang, dated its construction in 1815, at the time of king anourut’s reign.
The vat was originally built in the simple style, featuring a single roof. Façade of the viharn and wall below the porch were covered murals. A single stupa with the Prasat was erected in front of the monastery.
In 1932, three dormitories and a viharn in the simple style featuring a hall and a single porch were constructed.
The restoration carried out between 1966 and 1969 has not changed the main viharn much. The old paintings below the porch were replaced with oil paintings, pale imitation of the originals.
All the doors and windows are of carved wood. Two bearded divinities with Chinese-infuenced costumes can be observered.
Built of brick and stucco instead of traditional materials, the main building is a blend of Laotian and French Beaux Arts architectural ideas and motifs that sought to symbolize ties between Luang Prabang and the ruling French colonial government. It was primarily designed by the French and built with a large number of Vietnamese workers, the building has two separate cruciform-style sections linked by the large throne room; perimeter exhibition galleries surround each of the sections. There have been a number of changes since its original construction; its steeply pitched roof, central Lao-type spire and the breadth of its faï¿½ade were later additions and modifications. French architects originally had planned a European spire over the throne room, but King Sisavangvong (who even had studied in Paris), successfully insisted that it be Lao-style. There are classical style columns and a number of pediments reflecting European influence, though there is Lao style decoration and Lao style brackets between the roof sections and the exterior walls of the building. After the dissolution of the monarchy in 1975, the building was reopened as the National Museum Built of brick and stucco instead of traditional materials, the main building is a blend of Laotian and French Beaux Arts architectural ideas and motifs that sought to symbolize ties between Luang Prabang and the ruling French colonial government. It was primarily designed by the French and built with a large number of Vietnamese workers, the building has two separate cruciform-style sections linked by the large throne room; perimeter exhibition galleries surround each of the sections. There have been a number of changes since its original construction; its steeply pitched roof, central Lao-type spire and the breadth of its faï¿½ade were later additions and modifications. French architects originally had planned a European spire over the throne room, but King Sisavangvong (who even had studied in Paris), successfully insisted that it be Lao-style. There are classical style columns and a number of pediments reflecting European influence, though there is Lao style decoration and Lao style brackets between the roof sections and the exterior walls of the building. After the dissolution of the monarchy in 1975, the building was reopened as the National Museum.