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Emerald Buddha

Emerald Buddha

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The Emerald Buddha is the palladium
Palladium (mythology)
In Greek and Roman mythology, a palladium or palladion was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend. "Palladium" especially signified the wooden statue of Pallas Athena that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to the...

  of the Kingdom of Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, a figurine
Figurine
A figurine is a statuette that represents a human, deity or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the creator. The earliest were made of stone or clay...

 of the sitting Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, made of green jadeite
Jadeite
Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is monoclinic. It has a Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0 depending on the composition. The mineral is dense, with a specific gravity of about 3.4. Jadeite forms solid solutions with other pyroxene endmembers such as augite and diopside ,...

 (rather than emerald
Emerald
Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness...

), clothed in gold, and about 45 cm tall. It is kept in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
The Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. It is a "potent religio-political symbol and the palladium of Thai society". It is located in the historic centre of Bangkok , within the precincts of the Grand Palace.The main building is the central ubosoth, which...

) on the grounds of the Grand Palace
Grand Palace, Bangkok
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings in Bangkok, Thailand. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok...

 in Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

.

History


According to the legend, the Emerald Buddha was created in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in 43 BC by Nagasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

 in the city of Pataliputra (today's Patna
Patna
Paṭnā , is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar and the second largest city in Eastern India . Patna is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world...

). The legends state that after remaining in Pataliputra for three hundred years, it was taken to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 to save it from a civil war. In 457, King Anuruth of Burma sent a mission to Ceylon to ask for Buddhist scriptures
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 and the Emerald Buddha, in order to support Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in his country. These requests were granted, but the ship lost its way in a storm during the return voyage and landed in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. When the Thais captured Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu,...

 in 1432 (following the ravage of the bubonic plague), the Emerald Buddha was taken to Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya (city)
Ayutthaya city is the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand. Located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River. The city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya...

, Kamphaeng Phet
Kamphaeng Phet
Kamphaeng Phet is a town in northern Thailand, capital of the Kamphaeng Phet Province. It covers the complete tambon Nai Mueang of the Mueang Kamphaeng Phet district. As of 2005 it has a population of 30,114.-External links:...

, Laos and finally Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai
-Demographics:Official Population count: According to the Thailand National Statistical Office, as of September 2010, Chiang Rai municipal district has a population of 199,699...

, where the ruler of the city hid it. Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

n historians recorded capture of the Buddha statue in their famous Preah Ko Preah Keo legend. However, some art historians describe the Emerald Buddha as belonging to the Chiang Saen Style of the 15th century AD, which would mean it is actually of Lannathai origin.

Historical sources indicate that the statue surfaced in northern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 in the Lannathai kingdom in 1434. One account of its discovery tells that lightning struck a pagoda
Pagoda
A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist,...

 in a temple in Chiang Rai, after which, something became visible beneath the stucco
Stucco
Stucco or render is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as decorative coating for walls and ceilings and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture...

. The Buddha was dug out, and the people believed the figurine to be made of emerald
Emerald
Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness...

, hence its name. King Sam Fang Kaen of Lannathai wanted it in his capital, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province , a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is...

, but the elephant carrying it insisted, on three separate occasions, on going instead to Lampang
Lampang
Lampang, also called Nakhon Lampang to differentiate from Lampang Province, is the third largest town in northern Thailand and capital of Lampang Province and the Lampang district. Traditional names for Lampang include Wiang Lakon and Khelang Nakhon. The city is still growing rapidly as trading...

. This was taken as a divine sign and the Emerald Buddha stayed in Lampang until 1468, when it was finally moved to Chiang Mai, where it was kept at Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang is a Buddhist temple in the historic center of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The current temple grounds were originally made up of three temples — Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin.-History:...

.

The Emerald Buddha remained in Chiang Mai until 1552, when it was taken to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang , is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province...

, then the capital of the Lao
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 kingdom of Lan Xang
Lan Xang
The Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao was established in 1354 by Fa Ngum.Exiled as an infant to Cambodia, Prince Fa Ngum of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong married a daughter of the Khmer king. In 1349 he set out from Angkor at the head of a 10,000-man army to establish his own country...

. Some years earlier, the crown prince of Lan Xang, Setthathirath
Setthathirath
Setthathirath is considered one of the great leaders in Lao history. Throughout 1560s up until his death, he successfully defended his kingdom of Lan Xang against military campaigns of Burmese conqueror Bayinnaung, who had already subdued Xieng Mai in 1558 and Ayutthaya in 1564...

, had been invited to occupy the vacant throne of Lannathai. However, Prince Setthathirath also became king of Lan Xang when his father, Photisarath
Photisarath
Photisarath son of King Visunarat of Lanxang, is considered to be the most devout of the Lao kings, he banned spirit worship and built temples upon the sites of spirit shrines. His elephant fell and crushed him while he sought to display his prowess to the diplomatic corps...

, died. He returned home, taking the revered Buddha figure with him. In 1564, King Setthathirath moved it to his new capital at Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

.

In 1779, the Thai General Chao Phraya Chakri
Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Chakri Borommanat Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke , posthumously titled "the Great", or Rama I , was the founder and the first monarch of the reigning House of Chakri of Siam . He ascended the throne in 1782, after defeating a rebellion which had deposed King...

 put down an insurrection, captured Vientiane and returned the Emerald Buddha to Siam, taking it with him to Thonburi
Thonburi
Thon Buri is an area of modern Bangkok. It was capital of Thailand from 1767 to 1782, during the reign of King Taksin, after the previous capital Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese. It is located on the opposite bank of Chao Phraya River to Bangkok...

. After he became King Rama I
Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Chakri Borommanat Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke , posthumously titled "the Great", or Rama I , was the founder and the first monarch of the reigning House of Chakri of Siam . He ascended the throne in 1782, after defeating a rebellion which had deposed King...

 of Thailand, he moved the Emerald Buddha with great ceremony to its current home in Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew
The Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. It is a "potent religio-political symbol and the palladium of Thai society". It is located in the historic centre of Bangkok , within the precincts of the Grand Palace.The main building is the central ubosoth, which...

 on 22 March 1784. It is now kept in the main building of the temple, the Ubosoth
Ubosoth
A phra ubosot is a building in a Buddhist Wat. It is the holiest prayer room, also called the "ordination hall" as it is where ordinations take place....

.

Gold clothing


The Emerald Buddha itself is simply the Jadeite
Jadeite
Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is monoclinic. It has a Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0 depending on the composition. The mineral is dense, with a specific gravity of about 3.4. Jadeite forms solid solutions with other pyroxene endmembers such as augite and diopside ,...

 statue, but it is adorned with garments made of gold. There are three different sets of gold clothing, which are changed by the King of Thailand
Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX...

 or a liaison in a ceremony at the changing of the seasons – in the 1st Waning of Lunar Month
Lunar month
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two identical syzygies . There are many variations. In Middle-Eastern and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening...

s 4, 8 and 12 (around March, July and November). The three sets of gold garments correspond to Thailand's summer season, rainy season, and cool season. The two sets of gold clothing not in use at any given time are kept on display in the nearby Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Thai Coins on the grounds of the Grand Palace, where the public may view them.