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Phra Sri Rattana Chedi of Wat Phra Kaeo

A chedi ( Thai เจดีย์ , pronunciation: [t͡ɕeːdiː] ) is part of a wat , a Buddhist temple complex in Thailand . It corresponds to the stupa in the sacred architecture of other Buddhist countries.

The word Chedi is the Thai adaptation of the word Cetiya from Pali , the language of the Buddha or Chaitya from Sanskrit . This word comes from the root ci "to pile up", "to arrange in a certain order". It can be used to denote not only a cetiya, but also an altar or a general place of worship. But it also has a connotation of cit : "fix mentally", "remember", "instruct". Therefore - like the word "monument" (Latin monere: to remember) - it can mean not only a piece of architecture, but also a reminder in the broadest sense.


In the Kalinga-Bodhi-Jataka, the Buddha explains that there are three different types of cetiya, i.e. memorials. All - so said the Buddha - can serve as objects of worship in his place:

  1. That Chedi (also Sarira-Dhatu Chedi, Pali: dhatucetiya ): It stands for relics of the Buddha, which were originally divided into eight parts.
  2. Boriphok Chedi (Pali: paribhogacetiya ): These are personal possessions of the Buddha, such as his alms bowl or parts of his monk's robe.
  3. Utthesik Chedi (also Uddissa Chedi, Pali: uddesikacetiya ): "indicative memorabilia and replicas", for example a Buddha statue or a footprint of the Buddha , such as was discovered in Saraburi. The small votive tablets made of fired clay with images of the Bodhi tree or the Dhamma Cakra , the wheel of teaching, also belong to this category .
  4. Later a fourth type was added: Thamma Chedi (Pali: Dhammacetiya ): This means copies of the sacred Buddhist texts, the Tripitaka or commentaries on them.


Over the centuries the Buddha's relics have been shared over and over again, but their numbers have not multiplied as new chedis emerged. This means that the majority of chedis as we see them today are only copies of those that may have once contained relics.

The Thai chedis are a further development of the Sinhalese dagoba, which in turn emerged from the Indian stupa . This becomes particularly clear when looking at the Phra Chedi of Wat Phra Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat . Their shape became more and more elegant and slender. The bell-shaped, upwardly tapering building is sometimes accessible. The substructure is also provided with niches in which Buddha figures are venerated.

During the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom , the construction of the chedis was further developed: shrines are built in the four cardinal directions, which themselves carry small chedis (see picture below). Due to their later, as exact as possible alignment according to the four cardinal points as well as the number symbolism appearing in their dimensions, the more recent buildings also became a geometric image of Buddhist cosmology.

A temple complex can have several chedis, which are sometimes also covered with gold leaf .



  • Karl Döhring : The Phrăchedibau in Siam. Behrend & Co., Berlin, 1912; English translation (Buddhist Stupa (Phra Chedi) Architecture of Thailand) by White Lotus Press, 2000
  • Promsak Jermsawatdi: Thai Art With Indian Influences. Abhinav Publications, New Delhi 1979, especially section “Comparative study of the Buddhist Stupa of India and the Thai Stupa 'Pra Chedi'” p. 108 ff.
  • Nithi Sthapitanonda, Brian Mertens: Architecture of Thailand. A guide to tradition and contemporary forms. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore 2012, especially section “The Chedi Memorial Tower”, pp. 94–95.

Web links

Commons : Chedi  - collection of images, videos and audio files