Posted by: Johan Normark | March 29, 2009

Dawn of happiness

A popular name for a Thai restaurant in Sweden or elsewhere is Sukhothai which means Dawn of Happiness. This name relates to both a kingdom (1238-1438) and its capital founded in 1238. Originally the city was part of the Khmer empire which can be seen at the site in the form of prangs (richly carved spires) resembling the Khmer style (but built after 1238).

Three prangs in Khmer-style

Three prangs in Khmer-style

In 1238 a Thai chieftain established the new kingdom and this event is seen as the foundation of the contemporary Thai kingdom although there already existed other Thai speaking kingdoms. Sukhothai expanded through alliances and adopted Theravada  buddhism of which there are plenty of temples.

Most famous of these temples is Wat Si Chum, built in the late half of the 14th century. The temple has a mondop structure. Mondop is a Thai word deriving from the Sanskrit word mandapa and refers to a pavilion and a square temple that houses images or religious texts.

Wat Si Chum

Wat Si Chum

Wat Si Chum houses a massive seated stone Buddha, Phra Atchana. The statue is approximately 15m high and 11.5m wide. There is the passage through the roof inside the wall of the main sanctuary. The right hand of the statue is probably the most photographed part of the whole site.

Phra Atchana

Phra Atchana

For a short while Sukhothai controlled an area larger than contemporary Thailand. From the early 14th century it began to crumble. In 1378 Sukhothai had to declare the kingdom of Ayutthaya as their overlords. Sukhothai continued its path as a vassall until 1438 when its last king died and Sukhothai became an Ayutthayan province.

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