As a place of pilgrimage of crowds of Lao people and visitors from various regions, Wat Xieng Thong increasingly plays an important role in the spiritual life of the locals and becomes a sacred place in the busy and bustling city.
Establishment of Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important ancient temples in Luang Prabang, Laos. A great number of relics, religious and royal spirits and traditional Lao arts have been preserved. Wat Xieng Thong means the temple of the Golden City.
The ancient temple of Wat Xieng Thong is located at the confluence of the Mekong River and Nam Khanh River. Wat Xieng Thong was built in 1559 and 1560 by the King Setthathirath (1534-1571), who is one of the greatest leaders of Lao. Setthathirath was crowned King of Laos at this temple.
Until 1975, Wat Xieng Thong was still under the patronage of the Royal Family and successive clear-sighted kings who were crowned at the ancient temple.
This temple owns the characteristic Lao architecture with curved roofs falling close to the ground. Wat Xieng Thong is surrounded by small shrines with the same architectural style, forming a beautiful landscape. It is also home to the well-known lying Buddhist statue, which had been placed in the Paris Museum before being taken to Vientiane. Finally, it transferred to Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang in 1964.
Structure of Wat Xieng Thong
In terms of the structure of the temple, from the entrance gate, on the left is a small temple and inside the temple is a royal carriage which is highlighted by yellow color and decorated with five Naga snake goddesses. With the unique Mosaic art in the architecture, talented artists created great mural paintings imparting the stories of the Buddha that increases the mysteriousness of the temple.
The interior of the temple is the sophisticatedly sculptured reliefs based on the image of the Buddha. The surrounding shrines also have many beautiful reliefs. Behind the temple is the painting of a red-orange tree of life hung on the wall.
In 1980, the Tripitaka was restored to be handed to the empty stupas built in 1961. This ancient temple along with Wat Suwannaphumaham was destroyed in the struggle between the kingdom of Luang Prabang and the Black Flag Army (a group of people counted as rebels under the feudal regime). In 1887, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham still retained its original architecture. This is the reason why it has become a spiritual symbol for the local people.
Every year, on Bunpimay festival, the leaders of the Buddhist Sangha of Laos and the officials of the Luang Prabang government go to Wat Xieng Thong to celebrate the new spring, carry the Prabang statue from the museum to Wat Xieng Thong. After that, they bathe the Buddhist statue throughout the day, which expresses the devotion to Buddhism.
In conclusion, Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most grandiose Buddhist constructions in Luang Prabang in particular and Laos in general. If you expect to have a spiritual trip to Laos, Wat Xieng Thong is not a bad choice.