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Wat Suwannaram (วัดสุวรรณาราม)

Thai-Pali. ‘Golden Monastery’ or ‘Golden Temple’. Name of a royal Buddhist temple of the second class in Thonburi's Bangkok Noi district, located along the Bangkok Noi Canal, and fully known as Wat Suwannaram Rachaworawihaan (วัดสุวรรณารามราชวรวิหาร). The name is a compound of the words suwan or suwanna, and araam. Whereas suwanna is a Pali term that derives from the Sanskrit word suvarna and means ‘gold’ or ‘golden’, araam is also Pali and derives from the Sanskrit word ashram, which translates as ‘place to stay or halt’ and of which the root word shram means ‘to make efforts. The temple dates from the Ayutthaya Period and was initially named Wat Thong (วัดทอง), a common Thai name that also translates as ‘Golden Temple’. It was dismantled and rebuilt by King Rama I on the foundations of the earlier temple, after which it was given its present Thai-Pali name and royal status. Inside, it has some of the finest remaining collections of Thai classic style murals, with many small, almost tiny individual scenes, landscapes and figures, in contrast to the large space of the wall on which they are painted. Wat Suwannaram was renovated again during the reign of King Rama III. It was formerly the site of the Royal Cremation Ground for members of the Royal family and high-ranking officers, and was used for this purpose until the reign of King Rama V, after which Sanam Luang became the site for this purpose (fig.). The temple's Phra prathaan or principal Buddha image is named Phra Saadsada. It is seated in the bhumisparsa pose and dates from the Sukhothai Period. In front of the temple are some statues of King Taksin, the only monarch of the Thonburi Period. The site is accessible by boat and its location along the canal is indicated by a name sign carried by a copy of the Golden Swan Royal Barge, which in Thai is known as Reua Phra Thihnang Suphanahong (fig.). Also spelled Wat Suwannaraam.