Pha That Luang in Vientiane

Pha That Luang Vientiane


It is certainly the most important monument in Laos, both for its long and eventful history, as well as for its geographical position and its current symbolism.

Originally, his name was Phra Tjédi Lokatchoulalamani, which means the Divine Reliquary, the precious summit of the world. That Luang is a more generic term that could be translated as Grand stupa. It is therefore not surprising that each city has its own That Luang. Located just over 3 km northeast of the city centre, it is accessible by the road that bears his name.

The great Indian and Buddhist ruler named Asoka is said to have been at the origin of the foundation of the vat in the 3rd century BC. Tradition also requires that a fragment of the Buddha's iliac bone (some say a hair of the master) be placed at the heart of the building. In any case, it is certain that during the Sikhottabong period, otherwise known as the Mon period - that is, from the 7th to the 10th century - That Luang was an important religious centre.

From the 11th to the 13th centuries, during the Say Fong period, the plain of Vientiane was occupied by the Khmers; a statue representing Jayavarman VII who ruled Angkor from 1181 to 1218 was found near That, which supports the idea that That Luang is under significant Khmer influence. The strange statue at the entrance to the cloister also dates from this period. He is a Khmer style guard, wearing a long club at his lower abdomen.

With the lower part of it gone, it now seems as if he is holding his sex in his hand. And this is only one of the many symbols that make it possible to relate this vat to the phallic emblem. In the 14th century, the kingdom of Lan Xang was created by Fa Ngum. Vientiane was then downgraded to Luang Prabang and the Vat That Luang was radically redesigned, to the point that the Khmer temple was replaced by a laterite stupa.

There is nothing left of this monument, because it was covered by what would become the current That Luang. It was not until the 16th century and the reign of Setthathirath that Vientiane regained her hegemony, and That Luang the form that is now her own. In 1566, this vast building, 54 m wide and 45 m high, was inaugurated. You could already admire the bulb in a carafe finished with a gilded copper tip. The thirty small bells built around it, also called palami, represented the three degrees of each of the ten perfections of Buddhist doctrine.

In the 17th century, That Luang really became the symbol of national unity, then it was destroyed by the various wars and left to be abandoned. However, at the beginning of the last century, the French Far Eastern school became aware of the importance of That Luang and, from 1930 to 1935, restoration work was undertaken. The stupa was rebuilt in the image of the sketches of Delaporte, the cloister was rebuilt as well as the prayer pavilions and the entrance doors.

In 1957, for the Buddha's 2,500th birthday, the bulb and lotus flower base were covered with a layer of gold. Today, the Vat That Luang is indeed the central figure of the identity of the Lao people. A visit during the full moon of October, sometimes in mid-November, during the That Luang festival, will show you how this monument can change its appearance and regain its vibrant colours, welcoming monks and monks from all over the country. A true Buddhist pilgrimage to a great sacred place for the Laotian people.

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


The nicely arranged esplanade is very recent.... and did not exist at the time of my last visit (2003)

Pha That Luang Vientiane

On this esplanade we meet all kinds of salers...

Pha That Luang Vientiane


A bird seller....
you take a bird, make a wish and release it into the wild....

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane

A few minutes later, the sparrow returns to its owner....

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Photographers equipped with a shoulder printer are also there...
Thus, you can have your portrait drawn with the temple in the background....
You don't have to run to the store to get the picture:
this one comes out of the printer a few seconds later...

Pha That Luang Vientiane

To the left of Pha That Luang, this new temple the Vat Dhammasapa

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


The paintings are really very recent,
because no trace of humidity or darkness due to the long rainy season....

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane

Le Pha That Luang se trouve dans une enceinte carrée mesurant environ 92m de côté

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane

Un aperçu du Vat That Lung Neua

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane

A monk's sleeping area

Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane


Pha That Luang Vientiane

Un autre temple proche du Pha That Luang avec des décorations très colorées et très chargées

Pha That Luang Vientiane


... and then all the way to the "bottom of the garden"...
this statue of the reclining Buddha measuring 25 meters in length

Pha That Luang Vientiane

D'ici quelques mois, cette statue sera recouverte d'une toiture

Pha That Luang Vientiane




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