If you know about Thailand or have been to Bangkok and done touristy stuff, you would probably know about The Emerald Buddha. I didn’t know but I think it’s fascinating enough to share, so here’s some information.
1. The Emerald Buddha (“emerald” in Thai means deep green colour and not the specific stone) is known as a palladium (protector) of Thailand and is in Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred temple in Thailand. It’s the most sacred because it has the Emerald Buddha. Basically as Thai Buddhist statues goes, this one is the ultimate boss.
2. No one is allowed to touch the statue except the King or the crown prince acting on behalf of the King. Each year, the King will clean the statue and change the garments according the seasons; hot season, rainy season and cool season.
3. According to records, both from more fantastical chronicles to more factual sources, the Buddha is really well travelled (and was philosophised to travel five Buddhist lands), from India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Chiang Rai, Vientiane, Bangkok and probably more. Supposedly a monk carried it up north from Angkor (to Chiang Rai?) when during a supernatural disaster. I loved loved this visual so much, of a monk carrying a deep green Buddha statue on his back and going on a really long journey.
4. In the early days of Bangkok, it was paraded out during times of calamities.
5. Besides being an image of the Buddha, Buddha statues have personalities, likes and dislikes and so forth. Disaster will strike if it is displeased. The palladium of the Lao people, Phra Bang Buddha was twice captured by the Siamese and brought to be in the same city as the Emerald Buddha and twice disasters and political upheavals ensued until it was returned. A monk carrying a deep green Buddha statue full of personality on his back and going on a really long journey! Reminds me of Hellboy and The Corpse.
6. Also because no one is allowed to touch it to study it, it’s origins cannot be confirmed, so all the magical stories about it’s travels, it’s prophecy of it visiting five Buddhist lands, all could be true. It’s Schrodinger’s Buddha Statue.
Text By Munkao. This post was originally published April 12, 2018 on the A Thousand Thousand Islands Patreon.