Haw Phra Kaew


As its name suggests, Haw Phra Kaew is not only a temple, it is a monastery palace - Wat Ho - which was not maintained by monks, but by the sovereign himself. Wat Ho Phra Kèo literally means "monastery palace of the Emerald Buddha" and it was built to house the famous Emerald Buddha whose story is as follows.

In 1545, Setthathirath, who was to make Vientiane the capital of Lane Xang, was only twelve years old when his father, Phothisararath, appointed him to take the throne of Chiang Mai at the request of the notables of this small kingdom then called Lan Na. Phothisarararath died accidentally shortly afterwards and the young Setthathirath was called to take over from him. In honor of his reign, Chiang Mai's elders presented him with a gift: a green jade image of the Buddha sitting in the attitude of meditation, the Phra Kèo.

Luang Prabang already possessing the Phra Bang, the young ruler decided to install this Buddha in the enclosure of his new residence in Vientiane. The palace monastery then looked great with its huge gilded and carved wooden doors, red and gold wall paintings, and a slender roof with triple slope breakage. However, relations deteriorated between the former kingdom of Lan Na, under Siamese rule, and that of Lane Xang. Ayuthya, the Siamese king, made it a point of honour to recover the Phra Kèo, which he considered to be part of his national heritage.

In 1779, following the defeat of the Lao army against the Siamese, the Emerald Buddha definitely took the road to Bangkok where he is now exposed in another Vat Ho Phra Kèo. In 1828, Vientiane was set on fire and bloodshed; the vat remained in ruins until 1936, when the Laotian and French authorities decided to restore the monument. Under the direction of Prince Souvanna Phouma, a public works engineer by training, the building was rebuilt on the model of the old one, the purpose of this reconstruction being to turn it into a museum of religious arts. The pieces that had been stored in various monasteries were transferred there and, in 1954, those from the Lao collection of the Louis Finot Museum in Hanoi were added. Today, you can admire some beautiful pieces: stelae engraved with Môn inscriptions; a sumptuous golden throne; statues of Khmer origin and many woodcarvings, including these famous carved doors which are one of the main treasures of Lao art.































If the sun was not there, I was lucky enough to meet some
monks and two young couples posing for their wedding photos in traditional costume,
enough to put a little human warmth into this magnificent setting

Photo session to remember everyone...
I smile when I show my camera, and at the smile I get in return, I understand that I too can take some pictures





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