Buddha Statues Across the Border: Myths, Constructions and Controversies of Sacred Space in the Current Socio-cultural Context

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Chalong Phanchan


Most of the Buddha statues in Lan Xang art during the 21st - 23rd Buddhist centuries are considered unique, as most of them were built by the king. At present, many of these Buddha statues have been brought to be enshrined in Thailand. This research article therefore had two objectives: 1) to study the myths of the summoned cross-border Buddha statues, from the Lan Xang Kingdom to be enshrined in Thailand; and 2) to study constructions and controversies of sacred space in the current socio-cultural context. This research was qualitative research by studying documents and field data in Nong Khai, Yasothon, and Bangkok provinces of Thailand. The research tools were observations, in-depth interviews, and small group discussions. The results showed that there are two periods of myths about Buddha statues across the border: 1) The Buddha statues were brought into the Krung Thon Buri kingdom once, namely Phra Kaew Morakot and Phra Bang; 2) the Buddha statues were brought into the Rattanakosin Kingdom twice, including Phra Suk, Phra Serm, Phra Sai, Phra Sae Kham, and so on. But there are many Buddha statues that do not clearly have details on the crossing of the border. There is only one inscription that says, “was summoned from the Lan Xang Kingdom.” For the construction and controversies of the sacred space, they found that Phra Suk and Phra Sai were brought to build and scramble for a variety of sacred spaces. But Phra Serm is rarely mentioned in the border areas. There is a connection between the myths and other phenomena such as Naga fireballs, holy water, etc. These areas have been made into “Sacred Areas”, and they are popular for Buddhists to visit, which has led to the creation of various amulets.

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Phanchan, C. (2022). Buddha Statues Across the Border: Myths, Constructions and Controversies of Sacred Space in the Current Socio-cultural Context. Journal of Arts Management, 6(1), 340–357. Retrieved from https://so02.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/jam/article/view/254054
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