Wat Chaiwatthanaram: a new assessment of its configuration and dating

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Kreangkrai Kirdsiri
Isarachai Buranaut
Kittikhun Janyaem


Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a 17th century Buddhist temple bearing a magnificent plan and unique architectural style, located in Ayutthaya, some 77 km due north of Bangkok. Although it is believed to have been completely constructed at the beginning of King Prasat Thong’s reign (AD 1630-1656), examining overlooked written evidence of the Three Seals Law in the Inheritance Section yields a more precise date of Wat Chaiwatthanaram’s construction, which is significantly earlier than that cited in previous studies. Notably, this study evaluates the significance of the base of a wooden-masonry building located north of the ubosot (ordination hall), previously identified as an ordinary ‘Sala’ (pavilion) in the Fine Arts Department’s excavation report, or a ‘Phlapphla Thong pavilion’ (a royal gilded lacquered pavilion). That has never before been explained. Furthermore, by employing the methodology of architectural art history and archaeology, this study evaluates the architectural reconstruction of Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Its reconstruction can be divided into three main groups in various degrees of deterioration, namely, masonry construction, wood-masonry construction and wood construction. Group 1 consists of well-preserved masonry construction. The main prang and the subsidiary prangs at the corners remain in a good condition. Group 2 is the group of wood-masonry construction that has been partially destroyed, such as Meru Thit Meru Rai (The eight Meru structures) and the Gallery. Relative evidence is required in order to create a solid assumption of its architectural reconstruction. For example, the location of a wooden structure can be used to trace the gable roof. Group 3 is the group entailing wooden construction, ‘Phlapphla Thong pavilion’ is mostly destroyed and includes remnants of archaeological evidence, e.g. the boundaries of construction and the remains of wooden pillars, which can be compared to a similar type of building at Wat Yai Suwannaram’s preaching hall. However, the study of Phlapphla Thong pavilion and ubosot remains controversial for the architectural reconstruction, and calls for further research when more evidence is found in the future.


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