Every Gemstone Has a Story to Tell

An Emerald Buddha in Thailand

An Emerald Buddha in Thailand

Travelling to Thailand has always brought new experiences to light. A country filled with delicious food and warm people, Thailand will have you wishing you could stay just a little longer. On a recent trip to this inspiring country, I visited the Grand Palace, a collection of sacred and administrative buildings in the city’s heart. Home to the world-famous Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew in Thai, the Grand Palace is truly a spectacle.

 

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The Grand Palace

 

Emerald Buddha
Chapel of the Emerald Buddha

A boat taxi and a TukTuk journey away we arrived like locals at the Grand Palace ready for another shower. Putting the heat daringly behind us, the palace offered so much more than just pretty pictures. Teleported to a time when kings ruled, every tile, corridor, and building was maintained from the era gone by. Over the years with a little restoration work, there was an indistinguishable difference.

The Emerald Buddha

Originating from an immensely large piece of Jade, when lightning struck, the buddha was found in Nothern Thailand. Derived from the word ‘Emerald’ meaning ‘green’, the Emerald Buddha was found inside a coating of plaster.  What started as a journey in Nothern Thailand, the Emerald Buddha travelled to Lunang Prabang and Vietnam, before returning home in 1778. King Rama the 1st conquered Vietnam and brought the Emerald Buddha back with him.

Emerald Buddha
A glimpse of the Emerald Buddha

Buddhism, a widespread belief in south-east Asia, has different representations in each country. Thus undoubtedly led to the suspicion that the Emerald Buddha was perhaps carved in southern India or Srilanka because of similarities with idols from those regions.

Facts about the Buddha

  1. Craved in Jade
  2. Three costumes created for the Buddha. Each handcrafted in gold, there is one for Summer, Monsoon and the Winter season.
  3. The Buddha’s lap is 48.3 cm wide with a base of 66 cm.
  4. The Buddha rests upon a gold-covered wooden throne.
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The peaceful Emerald Buddha

The three different gold costumes for the Buddha, each handmade and worn at different times of the year.

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Doors and windows delicately set with a Mother of Pearl inlay cannot help but catch your attention. A popular style from the Ayudhya period, it was built during King Rama’s reign and depicts an array of dragons.

As you walk in, calm, serenity takes over, even though just outside are tourists rushing to get a glimpse of the revered Buddha. With women, men, and children offering prayers at the front you cannot help but join your hands in silence.

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Windows in the temple that display infinite detail

As you are pushed along, you will see murals that decorate the walls with scenes from buddha’s enlightenment and various other celestial representations. With so much attention to detail, it is the only piece of art that has ever been produced.

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Murals that decorate the walls
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Mosaic work along the walls of the temple

A pair of solid bronze warrior lions stood guard at the doors of the temple, replicating a stone lion brought from Cambodia by King Rama the 1st.

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Lion Guardians

And finally, with every temple, a visit isn’t a complete without a small offering. At the grand palace, a fresh lotus, incense, and a gold leaf seemed ideal to symbolize renewal, peace and longevity.

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The offerings
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Setting the gold leaf upon the Buddha

One of the most sacred temples in all of Thailand, you cannot help but think of the juxtaposition of cultures at the palace. Seen throughout the palace as hand-painted tiles and architectural columns, it is a modern-day royal gemstone wonder.



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