Emerald Buddha

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Emerald Buddha
Emerald Buddha in the robe of the rainy season

The Emerald Buddha ( Thai พระ แก้วมรกต - Phra Kaeo Morakot , official name พระพุทธ มหา มณีรัตน ปฏิมากร - Phra Phuttha Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn ) is the national shrine of Thailand . This is the approximately 66 cm high Buddha statue (including the throne), which is venerated in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha ( Wat Phra Kaeo or officially: Wat Phra Si Rattana Sadsadaram ) in Bangkok . It is not - as the name or the color might suggest - made of emerald , but of jade .

He sits in the so-called Indian or heroic pose ( virasana ): his legs are crossed, the right one is on top of the left. His hand position is called samadhi mudra , i.e. meditation hand position: the right hand lies loosely on the left in the lap, the palms facing up. ( See also: Buddha statue (Thailand) )

The Emerald Buddha has three different robes that are changed in a solemn ceremony three times a year by the king or a prince's deputy. The garments are adapted to the weather of the respective season: there is a garment for the hot season (Thai: ฤดู ร้อน ), one for the cool season ( ฤดู หนาว ) and one for the rainy season ( ฤดู ฝน ).

In Thailand some Buddha statues are said to have magical powers, including the emerald Buddha. It is said to bring legitimacy and prosperity to those who own it. It should also avert epidemics.

The legend

According to a fairytale legend, the Emerald Buddha is said to have been created by the (Hindu) gods Indra and Vishnu on behalf of an Indian monk with the help of the demons of Mount Velu . It was only after an odyssey through Sri Lanka , Java , Myanmar and Angkor that the Emerald Buddha was said to have reached Thailand centuries later.

Chiang Rai

An old chronicle describes how the Emerald Buddha was "discovered". During a thunderstorm in 1434, lightning struck a chedi that was in a temple in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. The chedi shattered and a Buddha figure was found under the rubble, covered with gilded stucco. She was taken to the abbot, who after a while noticed that the stucco was peeling off her nose. It shone green underneath. When the stucco was completely removed, the figure of the Emerald Buddha emerged. People flocked to the temple in Chiang Rai, named "Wat Phra Kaeo" after him, and worshiped the Buddha statue, so that it became very famous.

Chiang Mai

King Sam Fang Kaen of Chiang Mai heard about the Emerald Buddha and ordered that he be taken to his capital, Chiang Mai. But when the elephant carrying the Buddha figure reached the junction for Lampang shortly before Chiang Mai, he did not want to be persuaded to bring the precious cargo to its original destination. Instead, he turned onto the Lampang road. Two other elephants did the same. The king took this as an omen, and so the Emerald Buddha spent the next 32 years at Wat Phra Kaeo Don Thao in Lampang .

When King Tilokarat came to power, he ordered the Emerald Buddha to be brought from Lampang to Chiang Mai in 1468. He received a new home in the eastern niche of the great chedi in Wat Chedi Luang . Here he stayed for 83 years.


When the king of Chiang Mai died in 1551, he had no sons to appoint as heir to the throne. One of his daughters, however, was married to the king of Luang Prabang ( Lan Chang in northern Laos ). She had a son, Prince Chaiyachet. This prince has now been "invited" to become the new king of Chiang Mai, which he gladly accepted. He got the royal name Chao Chayasettathirat . A short time later, his father, the king of Luang Prabang, died. King Chaiyasettathirat wanted to attend the funeral, but was afraid that he would not be admitted to Chiang Mai afterwards. So he took the Emerald Buddha with him on the trip. But it turned out that he stayed in Luang Prabang longer than planned, so that after three years the dignitaries of Chiang Mai appointed another king.

When the Burmese began to overrun Luang Prabang in 1564 under the leadership of King Bayinnaung , King Chaiyasettathirat moved his capital to Vientiane . Of course, he took the Emerald Buddha with him. He built a new temple for him there, which he called Wat Phra Kaeo . The Emerald Buddha spent the next 214 years in Vientiane.


In 1778 -  Ayutthaya had been destroyed by the Burmese and General Taksin had declared the small port of Thonburi the new Siamese capital - Chao Phraya Chakri ( Rama I ) succeeded in taking Vientiane after a brief siege. It should be noted that Chao Phraya is a title of nobility and Chakri is a military rank, roughly equivalent to a general. The real name of the Chao Phya Chakri was Thong Duan . Born in 1737, he was a descendant of a wealthy Ayutthaya family with ties to the most influential clans of ancient Siam. He brought his war booty from Vientiane, the Emerald Buddha, in a triumphal procession to the new capital. There he was initially housed in the main temple Wat Arun , which was right next to the king's palace.

In 1782 Chao Phraya Chakri was crowned as King Rama I and thus founded the Chakri dynasty, which is still in office today . For reasons of a much better defense against the still hostile Burmese, he moved his capital to the other, eastern side of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya ( Chao Phraya River ). He wanted to revive the splendor of the old capital Ayutthaya there. He therefore built a new palace for himself and a new temple for the Emerald Buddha. He called this temple "Wat Phra Si Rattana Sadsadaram", in German about "The Temple of the Sacred Jewel (of the God) Indra", today it is called " Wat Phra Kaeo " for short by the locals , ie "Temple of the Emerald Buddha" . In a solemn ceremony, the Emerald Buddha was brought from Thonburi to his new temple on March 22, 1784, where he can still be venerated today.

Web links

Commons : Emerald Buddha  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files