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Wat Chaiwatthanaram (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม)

Thai. One of the most impressive of ancient Buddhist monasteries, built in 1630 AD on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya (fig.), by order of King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) to make merit (tamboon) for his deceased mother. It is believed that it was built on the location of his former residence. Its structural design resembles that of Angkor Wat with a large prang representing Mount Meru, and may therefore be built to commemorate victory over Cambodia. The temple consists of one large prang and four smaller ones, built on the same base and surrounded by eight smaller prangs, and a gallery with 120 gilded Buddha images in the maravijaya position. In the eight smaller prangs a total of twelve crowned Buddhas are found. The ceiling of every alcove under each prang is made from wood and decorated with gilded star motifs painted onto a black lacquer background. When Ayutthaya was besieged by the Burmese in 1767 the temple was used as an army base. After the fall of the city the temple was abandoned and later looted and many Buddha images were decapitated. See also POSTAGE STAMP and LIST OF THAI KINGS.