Wat Nong Sikhunmuang, Luang Prabang

Wat Nong Sikhunmuang, Luang Prabang

Wat Nong Sikhunmuang is located on Kounxoa Road, in the next block from Wat Sene. The roof colors are vibrant yellow and orange and the exterior gold decoration of the gable is set against a backdrop of deep red. The wat itself is whitewashed, which really sets off the deep gold framed windows along the sides.

As with many of the other wats we visted in Luang Prabang, monks’ housing is onsite and orange robes adorn railings.

I would like to go back to Luang Prabang and get some pictures of the 7-tiled dok so faa especially. Additionally, there is a famous bronze statue of Buddha inside the temple that amazingly survived a fire in 1774. It has become an icon for travelers, I suppose much the same was as the St. Christopher metal is for Catholics.

It has been 5 years since we visited Luang Prabang and I hope that tourism hasn’t changed it too much. If it has, I suppose I am partly to blame. Please enjoy the pictures I did get.

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, Luang Prabang

Otherwise known simply as Wat Mai, this is a fairly large temple complex. The main temple is unusual in that it has a five-tiered roof. Each tier is finished with a naga finial and the very top tier is decorated with a 3-spire dok so faa, or metal roof decoration. The lowest roof sweeps nearly to the ground, which makes the roof structure the most prominent exterior feature of this wat.

To say that is not to diminish the extraordinary artwork of Pae Ton who, in the 1960s, created the golden bas-reliefs around the front entrance of the sim. I took quite a few close-up pictures, the detail is fantastic. One of the stories depicted, according to Denise Heywood in Ancient Luang Prabang is the Vissantara Jataka, the story of the last reincarnation of the historical Buddha. These bas reliefs also depict images of an idyllic daily life with the bottom filled with images of farm animals including water buffalo and pigs.

 

This is an active wat. When we arrived there was a very friendly young monk selling postcards on the veranda and many others lounging about on the grounds. The interior is filled with numerous Buddhist statues and long-boat paraphernalia. One of the buildings houses the two longboats used for the religious boat races during Lao New Year. I would love to return for Lao New Year one day to see this and other ceremonies passed down over the centuries. The Pra Bang Buddha is also brought from the Royal Palace to this temple during the Lao New Year celebration for its annual three day ritual ablutions, a religious term meaning washings.

The small chapels and stupa close to the entrance look as though they may have been left as is when this wat was renovated in the 1940s and 1960s. It gives us a flavor for the age of this temple complex, built in 1804.

Wat Khili, Luang Prabang

Wat Khili, Luang Prabang

Wat Khili is situated opposite Wat Xieng Thong and next door to Wat Si Boun Houang. The first picture in this set is of the 2-story white stucco French colonial style monks quarters attached to this wat.

What I love most about this wat are the colorful tree of life mosaics on the red front of the sim. The sim at Wat Khili is painted red with gold columns. The roof finials at the top and the ends of the gables are sweeping representations of nagas.

Wat Khili, itself, has four square red columns with a large gold wheel of life on the gable and 2 matching wheels between the columns. This wat was, according to Ancient Luang Prabang by Denise Haywood, built by Chao Kham Sattha in a style reminiscent of temples found in the mountains close to the Plain of Jars in Xieng Kouang province where he came from, reinstating the relationship between there and Luang Prabang.

Wat Si Boun Houang, Luang Prabang

Wat Si Boun Houang, Luang Prabang

While many of the wats in Luang Prabang were renovated in mid to late 20th century, this wat seems older because it was last renovated in 1900. It was built in the mid 18th century. The small sim has 4 columns, 2 round and 2 square, topped with lotus petal capitals supporting a low sweeping roof. The gable is decorated with dharma wheel images.

This wat, also known as Wat Siri Moung Khoung is near Wat Xieng Thong, but is much quieter and less visited. The frangipani trees lend a sweet fragrance to the air and provide welcome shade to the large courtyard. I took only two pictures, one of the sim and one of 2 young monks sitting on the steps of their quarters.

Wat Siri Moung Khoung, Luang Prabang

Wat Siri Moung Khoung, Luang Prabang

Built in the 18th century, this temple is located on Kuonxoa Road, which is right down the road from Wat Xieng Thong and nestled between Wat Sop and Wat Si Boung Houang. The main sim is a simple structure adorned with graceful cho faa finials. Cho faa means sky cluster, an apt name for these finials spiking out into the sky above from the apex of each gable on both the sim and the simpler white chapel.

The white chapel with two short and two tall round columns decorated with gold leaf, is guarded by two striking white lions with red teeth. One of the pictures shows the decorative gold door to the entrance of the chapel.

I took a picture of a Buddha statue, but I am not sure if it was here or at Wat Sop. I think it may be from Wat Sop as I look at it more closely. We went to both temples (and more) on the same day.

Wat Sene, Luang Prabang

Wat Sene, Luang Prabang

Wat Sene was built in 1714, otherwise known as the Temple of the Patriarch. This temple is located right on the main road in all its conspicuous glory with gold stencilling applied directly to the outer walls. The doors are carved with gilded figures of divinities and mythical animals. The windows are adorned with gold stencilled balusters.

The monks work on the restorations of these temples. This one was restored in 1957 commemorating the Buddha’s birth 2500 years earlier. I wrote a short description with each photograph, to see click on the photo.