History 3


In addition to the ubosoth containing the Emerald Buddha, King Rama I also had twelve small open pavilions built around it. North of the ubosoth at the site of the present Library or Phra Mondop, lie had a library in the late Ayudhya and early Bangkok fashions constructed in the middle at a pond in order to keep the termites from coming to eat the holy palm-leaf manuscripts. The building was also used in that reign by those translating foreign correspondence. On the east of the pond, at the present site of the Royal Pantheon, two gilded stupa were built on the ground in commemoration of the king's parents. A belfry was also constructed south of the ubosoth for bronze bell, valued for its rich sound, that been removed from Wat Saket in Bangkok.
In 1788 King Rama I had the Tripitaka (the Buddhist Holy Manuscripts) revised at Wat Mahathat, and after the revision was completed, transferred a new' copy of it to the new library inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and ordered a grand celebration. Unfortunately sparks from fireworks fell on the roof of the library and burnt it down but the Tripitaka was saved in time. During the second phase of construction under King Rama I, the king had the pond under the library filled up, enlarged the boundaries of the Temple on both its eastern and northern sides to the present limits and constructed many other buildings. On top of the pond that had been filled up the king had a new' library (no. 11) built, containing a large, beautiful mother- of-pearl inlaid book-cabinet to house the Tripitaka. This superb book-cabinet was made under the supervision of Chao Praya Mahasena, the founder of the Bunnag family. H.R.H. Prince Naris admired this new library very much for its style and decoration, such as a bronze snake with human faces, rather than reptilian ones on the railing of each staircase, the demon door-guardians and the mother-of-pearl inlaid door-panels. On the enlarged grounds to the north, the king's younger brother, the Prince of the Palace to the Front, built for his brother a supplementary library, Ho Phra Monthien Tham (no. 18), housing the rest of the Tripitaka. It was also used as a site for the translation of foreign correspondence. Inside are kept many beautiful mother-of-pearl inlaid book-cabinets, and the door of the building, which is decorated with the same material, dates back to 1752 in the late Ayudhya period, during the reign of King Boromkot (1732-1758). The mural paintings inside, which originally dated from the early Bangkok period, have recently been totally restored. On the west and next to the Supplementary Library near the present Viharn Yod was built the White Viharn for the keeping of Buddha images and the Viharn Phra Thep Bidorn.
Phra Thep Bidorn was probably a Hindu image and was believed to represent King L Thong, the founder of Ayudhya. the capital prior to Bangkok. King Rama I had the sculpture brought down to Bangkok and recast into a crowned Buddha image covered with silver.
Next to the Viharn Phra Thep Bidorn on the west another Viharn (congregation hall) was constructed to house a large standing Buddha image of copper alloy. It is 4 m. high and is called Phra Nak. This image had been moved down from Ayudhya and the bu ilding containing it was named Ho Phra Nak )
In front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the east, the king had eight prang (towers) constructed (no. 21). They were dedicated respectively from the north to the south to the following important elements of Buddhist: the Buddha, the Dhamma (the Law), the Sangha (Buddhist monks), the Bhikshuni (Buddhist nuns who existed in the old days), Pacchekabodhi Buddhas (Buddhas who attained Enlightenment but never preached), the chokravati (great emperors). the Bodhisava (the Buddha in his prev ious lives, according to Theravada Buddhism) and the Maitreya (the future Buddha).
In the reign of King Rama II nothing was added, but in the reign of his son, King Rama III, the whole temple was restored since many buildings had decayed and were in the of repair to make them appropriate for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Bangkok in 1832. He began the restoration its 1831, one year before the festivities. The king had the superstructure of the ubosoth restored and changed the decoration to its exterior walls from gold on red lacquer to gilt-stucco decorated with colored glass which is as it appears today. He also had 112 figures of garuda (the king of birds) holding naga (the king of snakes) cast in bronze to ornament the base. The mural painting inside were newly painted as mentioned above except for the scenes of the Buddhist cosmology and the Enlightenment of the Buddha, respectively, on the western and eastern walls. The golden throne of the Emerald Buddha was heightened, as noted previously, by an intermediary base. The king had the superstructure of the galleries around the temple changed and the whole story of the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana) repainted. The White Viharn of King Rama I was demolished, and the Viharn Yod, with its superstructure in the form of a Thai crown ornamented with multi-colored pieces of glazed terra-cotta, was built in its place. The mother-of-pearl inlaid door of this structure dates back to 1753 in the reign of King Boromkot of the late Ayudhya period.
H.R.H. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, father of Thai history and archaeology, surmised that originally surmised area at the northern side of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha contained four buildings, respectively, from the east to the west: the Supple- mentary Library (Ho Phra Monthien Tham, no I8), the White Viharn, the Ho Phra Thep Bidorn and the Ho Phra Nak. But in the reign of King Rams Ill the need arose for a rather large building in which to keep the ashes of the deceased members of the present Chakri Dynasty, so the king had the Ho Phra Thep Bidorn and the original Ho Phra Nak pulled down, and built instead a large building (no. 20) to preserve the ashes of the deceased princes and princesses. The images of Phra Thep Bidorn (the crowned Buddha image clad in silver) and Phra Nak (the large standing Buddha image in copper alloy) were transferred to the Viharn Yod (no. 19) and have remained there ever since. The large new building, though containing only the ashes of the deceased members of the present dynasty, has continued, however, to be called Ho Phra Nak (no. 20) up to the present day.
Apart from the above-mentioned buildings, King Rama Ill restored structures such as the Library (Phra Mondop), the Supple- mentary Library (Ho Phra Monthien Thaw), the small open pavilions around the ubosoth, the belfry, the two golden stupa and the eight prong (towers), etc., He embellished the grounds by constructing small artificial stone hills, stone seats, and flower pots, and lined the paths and entrances with Chinese stone sculptures. The king also had a figure of a seated hermit, who was supposed to be a great physician, cast in bronze and installed behind the ubosoth to the west in front of a gate (no. 8). A grinding stone and a mortar were placed before the figure 50 that people could come to worship and grind their medicine for greater efficacy.
In the reign of King Rama IV (King Mongkut, 1851-1868), much reconstruction took place The tall terrace on which the Library (Phra Mondop, no 11) stands was enlarged both on its western and eastern sides and two tiers of stone railings were built around it. Six gates and staircases leading up to the Library were added as well as galleries on the east and the west. On the east a gate with a superstructure in the form of a Thai crown was built, flanked by two pavilions. On the west a gate with a four-sided top and a pavilion were constructed.
In front of the Library (no. 11) on the east the king built a pavilion with a prong (tower) summit, which is now called the Royal Pantheon. It was begun in 1856. At first the king wanted to transfer the Emerald Buddha there as he thought it was improper for the Buddha to be lower than the Tripitaka (the Law). But after the building was finished, it was found to be too small to perform any ceremony inside, so it was left vacant. The two gilt redented stupa (no. 10) also on the terrace in front of the Royal Pantheon on the east might have been built in this reign to replace the former two constructed by King Rama 1, which would have been on the ground.
To the west of the Library a stupa was constructed in imitation of a large one at Wat Phra Si Sanpet at Ayudhya. The construction began in 1855. The stops was called Phra Si Ratana Chedi and relics of the Buddha were enshrined in it. The golden mosaic adorning it at present, however. was not added until the reign of King Mongkut's son, King Rams V (King Chulalongkorn, 1868-1910).
The wooden superstructure of the Library (no. 11) was restored, and the thin flat pieces of silver which paved the floor inside were replaced by silver mats.
To the north of the Library King Mongkut had built a model of Angkor Wat as it was during the period when Cambodia was still a vassal state of Thailand. This model was finished in the reign of King Rams V for the centenary celebration of Bangkok
At the southeastern corner of the ubosoth, a viharn with a prang superstructure was built to house an old chedi brought down from northern Thailand, and its front of this viharn vat constructed a building m enshrine a bronze Buddha image called the Gandhara Buddha. The image had been cast in the First Reign of Bangkok for the ceremony of asking for rain during the agricul- tural season (no. 3). This Buddha has a halo in the form of a lotus bud or a gem. He wears a monastic robe in a Chinese fashion and his right hand is in the attitude of calling down the rain whereas his left hand is trying to catch it. These two buildings were ornamented with the present terra-cotta glazed tiles in the reign of King Rams V. King Rams IV also had a site prepared in front of the viharn enshrining the Grandhara Buddha for the stone sea of King Ram Khamhaeng the Great (1279-1299) which King Ram IV, when still in the monkhood, had brought down from the tow of Sukhothai (This stone seat has now been removed to soothe site.) To the south of the ubosoth a new belfry was constructed probably on the site of the original one (no. 4).
Behind the ubosoth on the west, King Rams IV also had constructed a pavilion having a prong superstructure decorate with glazed terra-cotta; this was to house an old bronze prong called Phra Pothithat Piman (no 6). He then had a small structure built on either side of this central pavilion. The northern structure named Ho Rachakaramanusorn (no. 7), houses thirty-four small bronze Buddha images in various attitudes dedicated to the thirty-three kings of Ayudhya and one king of Thonburi. The small Buddha images in various attitudes had been cast by command of King Rams III from copper found at Chantuk in the province Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) in northeastern Thailand The kit had asked his uncle, H.R.H. Prince Paramanuchit, who was in the monkhood, to invent forty attitudes for Buddha images aft the life story of the Master, but he had only thirty-four images cast. The mural paintings inside the building depicting the history of the Ayudhya period were executed by Khrua In Khong, eminent painter who was the first Thai to use westerns perspective Inside the southern building called Ho Rachapongsanusorn (no. f which was dedicated to the kings of the Chakri Dynasty, are or installed eight small Buddha images in different attitudes, ca one protected by a many-tiered umbrella. The moral painting inside portray the life of King Rams I or the history of Bangkok and probably were painted by an artist other than Khrua In Khong as the workmanship is not all the same.