Wat Phumin was probably founded towards the end of the 16th century. In the chronicles of Nan it is mentioned for the first time in 1602 during a Burmese raid, other chronicles mention the year 1596 as the year of foundation. At that time, King Chao Chettabut Phum Min ruled Nan.
On March 20, 1704, the Burmese were able to take the city of Nan without resistance. The 47th Regent of Nan, Chao Panya Mueang Lacha, had fled south with his soldiers from the advancing Burmese army shortly before. The Burmese destroyed "the west-facing Buddha statue of Wat Phumin" and many other temples in the city: "all that was left of Nan was the bare earth".
In 1219 CS (1857/58 AD ) King Chao Ananta ascended the throne of the Kingdom of Nan. One of his first official acts was to "rebuild" viharns in numerous temples in the area, followed in eleventh place by "the great viharn of Wat Phumin". Numerous visitors have been fascinated by Wat Phumin since then, such as the English traveler CEW Stringer, who noted the visit in his diary in 1887.
The fascinating wall paintings were probably not created until the end of the 19th century at the instigation of Ananta's successor, Chao Suliyapong, in response to the offensive treatment by the overpowering Siamese king.
A special feature of this temple is that the ubosot also serves as a viharn. The ubosot has a cross-shaped floor plan, on each of the four sides there is an entrance door accessible via stairs.
The northern staircase is flanked by two Nagas . Their huge bodies initially wind their way over an archway in a wave-like manner. They seem to continue below the building until their tails emerge again in a wave shape on the southern side, where they arch over an archway again. The tip of the tail has rolled up like a pyramid. From a distance it appears as if the ubosot is being carried on the back of the two Nagas.
All four symmetrically arranged entrances have large portals, the wing doors of which are decorated with ornate wood carvings. The interior of the Ubosot is amazingly spacious. The wooden coffered ceiling is supported by twelve pillars, which are painted with various gold ornaments on a red background.
A scaled-down copy of the Ubosot can be seen in the Mueang Boran open-air museum south of Bangkok.
Quadruple Buddha statue
The main Buddha statue in Wat Phumin is not placed in the back of the Ubosot as usual , but in its center. Four Buddhas sit back to back and look in the four cardinal directions. This iconography has long been known in the Mon states of Myanmar, it is reminiscent of the four gigantic Mon Buddhas of Kyaik-Pun in Pegu , Myanmar. There were similar arrangements in early Siamese temples, for example in Wat Phra Men (Thai: วัด พระ เมรุ ) in Nakhon Pathom , or in Wat Phra Yuen (Thai: วัด พระยืน ) in Lamphun .
Although renovated in 1991, the unique murals are in poor condition due to the climate. They show the story of Gaddhana, a boy in search of his father, as described in the "Khatthana-Kuman-Jataka" (Thai: คั ท ธน กุมาร ชาดก ). This birth story ( Jataka ) is not one of the 550 canonical stories, but is a local legend that only seems to be known in Burma, northern Thailand and Laos.
Although the four inner walls of the bot have a very small area and are interrupted by window and door openings, there was still enough space to depict additional scenes from the life of the Buddha and from everyday life in Nan at the end of the 19th century.
David K. Wyatt interpreted in his book Reading Thai Murals choosing the scenes depicted as a subtle criticism of the royal family in Bangkok and to the French, who shortly before the northern half of the Nan kingdom awarded Bangkok got and her French Indochina incorporated had, a criticism that should never have been expressed aloud.
The painter, Thit Buaphan, also called Noi Buaphan, came from central Laos. Before the king could win him over to work at Wat Phumin, the wall paintings in Wat Nong Bua about 30 kilometers north of Nan had already been done, which took him almost 21 years. So it was probably not until 1894 that he could start working at Wat Phumin. It can be assumed that he needed a similar amount of time for this work.
- David K. Wyatt: Reading Thai Murals . Silkworm Books , Chiang Mai 2004, ISBN 974-9575-47-4
- David K. Wyatt (Transl., Ed.): The Nan Chronicle . SEA-Program Cornell University, Ithaca 1994, ISBN 0-87727-715-X
- Carol Stratton: Buddhist Sculpture of Northern Thailand . Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2004, ISBN 1-932476-09-1
- David K. Wyatt: Temple Murals as an Historical Source. The Case of Wat Phumin, Nan . Chulalongkorn University Press, Bangkok 1993, ISBN 974-581-856-9
- Description of Wat Phumin with photos (in English)
- Page with numerous photographs of the temple and the wall paintings (in Thai)