Ancient Buddha sculptures in the cloister of Wat Si Saket in Vientiane, Laos.
Wat Si Saket
, also written Vat Si Saket, is one of the most important temples in Vientiane
, just across the street from the Presidential Palace.
Officially known as Wat Sisaketsata Sahatsaham, it is Vientiane's oldest temple still in its original form. Wat Si Saket was built by Chao Anuvong, the last king of the Lan Xang Kingdom, in 1818 in the early Bangkok style, when Laos was a vassal of Siam.
Probably due to its architectural style, when the Siamese attacked and destroyed Vientiane in 1828, Wat Si Saket was relatively spared, making it the oldest original temple in Vientiane today.
What makes Wat Si Saket particularly attractive among tourists today is the cloister that surrounds the central sim
, or ordination hall. The interior walls contain small niches that house tiny silver and ceramic Buddha images, over 2000 all told. These Buddha images were made in Vientiane between the 16th and 19th Centuries.
Sitting on long shelves below the niches are over 300 mostly Lao-style Buddhas. They are made of wood, stone and bronze.
On the western side of the cloister is a pile of broken images, the result of the Siamese-Laotion war of 1828. Today Wat Si Saket is home to the head of the Lao sangha, the Buddhist order of monks.
The ordination hall, called sim, of Wat Si Saket.
View of the roof of the ordination hall.
View of the cloister that surrounds the sim.
Spoils of war: broken images from the war of 1828.
The signature of Wat Si Saket are the small niches on the walls of the cloister, numbering over 2000, each containing miniature Buddha images in silver and ceramic.
This long wooden trough is in the form of a naga, or river-snake. It is used during the Lao New Year celebrations to pour cleansing water over the temple's Buddha images.
This Burmese-style structure once hold holy manuscripts. During the 1828 war, the Siamese took the scriptures away, and now they are housed in Bangkok.
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