Wat Suthat Thepwararam
The Giant Swing and environs in the older part of Bangkok. The Swing Ceremony, entirely Brahmanical in origin, was last performed in 1935. Behind the swing stands
Wat Suthat, an excellent example of Bangkok period architecture, the construction of which was initiated during the First Reign and completed in the Third Reign.
Wat Suthat Thepwararam is a royal temple of the first grade. It was
King Rama I's intention to make Bangkok as glorious as Ayutthaya had been,
so built a temple as large as Wat Phanan Choeng in the Old Capital to install a large image of the Buddha named
Phra Sri Sakyamuni which had been brought down from the grand Wihan of Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai. When he had finished the foundation of
the grand Wihan and placed the Buddha image in its proper place, he passed away.
King Rama II went on with the building by continuing with the Wihan. He himself worked on the carving of the central door panels but
he passed away before the temple was completed.
During the reign of King Rama III the Wihan was finished and he added many more buildings all over the temple compound. He gave the name to the Buddha image in the grand Wihan, of Phra Sri Sakyamuni and
the one in the Ordination Hall, of Phra Trilokachet and the name of the temple as Wat Suthat Thepwararam. Renovation took place in the reign of King Rama V.
This temple is highly admired for its entire plan.
King Anand (Rama VIII) Statue, standing at the northwest corner of courtyard
The main chapel of Wat Suthat
Building was started in A.D. 1807 during the reign of King Rama I and was completed in the time of King Rama III.
It stands on a double base, surrounded by walls. The verandah around it was built in the style of early Bangkok, influenced by the style of Wat Mongkhon Bophit in
Ayutthaya. The roof is in double tiers. Open porches are both in front and at the back. The square pillars are topped with lotus capitals.
There are three doors on each side in front and at the back. Each door panels is ,ade of one piece of teak wood about six metres high and one and a half metres wide, and
carved in depth of 15 centimetres deep with pictures of animals and celestial beings in the Himavanta forest. The carving is exquisitely done and it is said that the two central ones
were of King Rama II's own craftsmanship. They are considered to be the most important works of art of the period. The niches above the windows are moulded in the shape of
pediments. The original window panels were decorared with gilded laquer designs.
The Buddha images around the Minor Chapel
Inside the Wihan where the Buddha image Phra Sri Sakyamuni is installed, there are murals by the artists of the King Rama II and III which are finely painted and still remain in
good condition. They portray Thai Buddhist cosmology and scenes of the Himavanta forest with lotus ponds, Kinnara and Kinnari and their children. On the door and windows panels guardians are painted.
At the lower terrace of the base there are Chinese pagodas, seven pagodas on each side making 28 of them to signify the 28 Buddhas born on this earth. At each corner of the lower
and upper terraces there is a bronze horse, making eight horses altogether.
Tha, Chinese style chedis stand on the second level of the circulambutory area of the Wihan
2. Phra Sri Sakyamuni
The warriors Chinese status scattered throught the Ordination Hall are in reality a type of cement that when hardened looks like stone
3. The Ordination Hall
This stands facing to the east. It is the largest ordination hall in Thailand, built on a double base. The boundary stones are beautifully carved with Chinese designs.
The roof of the hall is of the traditional Thai architectural style in four tiers. The oillars are in plain square form. The gable boards are gilded and decorated with glass mosaic. The
gable on the eastern side shows the Sun-god Suriya riding on his chariot drawn by seven horses. The one in the west depicts Indra.
The murals which are in good condition were done by the masters of the period of King Rama III. With their flat tints and primitive
perspective, they are interesting as they are amongst the few in Bangkok showing the indigenous Thai style unaffected by the western
influences (for the most part). Their subject matter is varied.
4. Phra Buddha Trilokachet
This is the main image in the Ordination Hall in the attitude of subduring Mara. King Rama III had Kroma Meun Narong Harirakse
cast it when he built the temple. The image is the largest among all those cast in Bangkok.
5. The Pavilions in the four directions
They are replicas of the Wihan on a much smaller scale without front and back porticos. The top parts are all in wood. In each of them
there are two Buddha images enshrined.
6. Wihan Khot or the Enclosure Gallery
This was built in the time of King Rama III, with double-tiered roof. The gable board is of wood, carved with Vishnu riding on
Garuda, very beautifully gilded and decorated with glass mosaic. The door panels are gilded with door
guardian. Inside one can find murals of the Ramakian. The gallery houses 156 Buddha images in stucco.
7. Satta Maha Sathan
Here are small images representing the Buddha on various occasions of enjoying the bliss enlightenment for seven days he stood
looking at the Bodhi tree, motionless, without even blinking; for seven days he walked; for seven days he sat under the Muchalinda tree;
a heavy storm came and the king of the nagas covered him with its hoods; holding rice cooked with milk; sitting in the Ratanaghara at
Bodhgaya meditating. King Rama III built these objects.
8. Sala Kan Parian
This was built in the reign of King Rama III in traditional style. The roof is double tiered and a double verandah surrounds it. The roof
is covered with terra cotta tiles without decorations other than moulded floral desings in stucco. The gable is also in stucco of floral design.
There is an image of the Buddha called Sethamuni in it.
9. Phra Buddha Setthamuni
The main Buddha image it the Sala Kan Parian cast by King Rama III from opium containers in A.D. 1839. He burned all the opium he had cofiscated.
10. The Bell Tower
Next to Sala Kan Parian this is an octagonal building in brick and mortar.
In the vicinity of Wat Suthat are buildings of considerable importance named Bot Phram (chapel of the Court Brahmins). There were
built in A.D. 1784 by King Rama I. They were damaged and later restored by King Rama III. The buildings face to the east and stand opposite
the Wihan of Wat Suthat in which the image of Phra Sri Sakyamuni is placed facing the north.
There is a story that a Naliwan Brahmin from Sukhothai called Sitthichai advised King Rama I to perform Triyampawai, a Brahmanic
rite involving ceremonial swinging. So the Giant Swing was constructed in front of Wat Suthat. During the reign of King Rama II
lighting struck it and damaged the top part of the swing and it was not repaired for a hundered years. In A.D. 1920 the Giant Swing was
repaired with teak wood donated by the Leonowens Company which was doing business in Timber here.
The swinging ceremony was performed from the time of King Rama I until it was abolished in the reign of King Rama VII. The
ceremony is still performed by the Brahmins on the 5 th day of the waxing moon in the second lunar month with a miniature swing in the main
building of the Temple of the Court Brahmins accompanied by the chanting of hymns.