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Wat Yahnnahwah (วัดยานนาวา)

Thai. ‘Boat Vehicle Temple’. Name of a third class royal temple (fig.) in Sathorn district in Bangkok, situated between the city's oldest road, i.e. Charoen Krung road and the Chao Phraya river, close to the Taksin bridge on Sathorn road (map). The temple was built in the Ayutthaya Period and initially called Wat Kok Kwai (วัดคอกควาย), meaning the ‘Buffalo Pen Temple’, because many Tavai (ทวาย) people, members of a race living in Arakan (Burma), who traded in buffalos, settled in the neighbourhood, then known as Ban Kok Kwai or the ‘Village of the Buffalo Pen’. In the Thonburi era, the status of the temple was raised to that of Araam Luang (อารามหลวง) and its name was changed into Wat Kok Krabeua (วัดคอกกระบือ), meaning ‘Carabao Pen Temple’. Later, King Rama I had a new ubosot built, which was restored during the reign of King Rama III, who also ordered two stupas erected, surrounded by a construction in the form of a 43 meter long reua sampao, as a model for future generations to see the kind of sailing ship that had brought much prosperity to the nation, because in his days those kind of junks were disappearing, making way for more modern, steam powered merchant ships. The two chedis represent the masts and sails of the ship and in the wheel-house on the stern is the wihaan, that besides several Buddha images, some of which are in rarely seen poses, houses statues of King Rama III and of Prince Wetsandorn. Following restoration, the temple was renamed once again, to Wat Yahnnahwah, its present name. Yahn means ‘vehicle’ and nahwah, a word related to navy, means ‘boat’. The temple is thus often simply referred to as the ‘Boat Temple’ and its name is also transcribed Wat Yannawa or Wat Yahnnahwah. The abbot of Wat Yahnnahwah is also the abbot of Wat Dhammaram (วัดธัมมาราม) in Chicago, Illinois (USA), as well as an activist in the promotion of Buddhism overseas and a senior member of the Kammakaan Maha Therasamakhom (กรรมการมหาเถรสมาคม), the ‘Committee of the Great Union of senior Buddhist monks (who have been ordained for more than ten years)’, usually translated as the ‘Board of the Council of Thai Bhikkus’. These facts are emphasized by the temple's fleet of luxurious cars (fig.) which are parked in the compound's private car park and include a BMW, a Porsche, a Land Rover and two Mercedes-Benzes, some in light beige, akin to the colour of cars of the royal fleet. See also Wat Chalo (fig.). See MAP.