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Tamnak Phra Mae Kwan Im (ตำหนักพระแม่กวนอิม)

Thai. ‘Residence hall of the goddess of mercy’. Name of a Chinese temple in Bangkok's Laht Phraw (Lad Phrao) district, dedicated to the bodhisattva Phra Mae Kwan Im, i.e. Kuan Yin. It was built in 1983 by the venerable Guang Seng (กวงเซง - fig.), the head monk of the Mahayana Order. The temple consists of two sections, divided by the street in which it is located. The southern section has a large pagoda, while the northern section (fig.) has a three-tiered square pagoda-like edifice with Chinese dragon pillars, which on one side has a crescent-shaped ridge with life-sized statues of the Eighteen Arahats. The temple has countless statues of the goddess of mercy, with the courtyard and garden surrounding the main pagoda feature several corners with marble statues of this goddess in her many different manifestations, grouped in 32, 84, and 108 variations respectively. The hall of the northern section contains large statues of various figures from Chinese-Taoist religion and mythology carved from wood, as well as 12 large golden-brown statues of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin, each seated on one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac, while in the northeasternmost corner there is a pool with this deity standing on a giant golden dragon. Beside this, the temple also has plenty of other, often life-sized, marble sculptures with themes from Taoism,  Buddhism, Chinese traditional life and Chinese mythology (fig.) on display, such as the animals of the Chinese zodiac, prince Ang Hai Yi, Lang Tai Su, Master Hui Neng (慧能/惠能 - fig.), the monk Tang Sam Chang Lang, the main characters of Journey to the West, as well as of the Ramakien, etc. The temple observes very strict rules. Monks ordained here have to be vegetarian and are not allowed to disrobe. They must meditate and abandon worldly life in order to devote themselves to the dharma completely. The top of the pagoda features a golden globe, which contains a relic. The pagoda is accessible and besides a panoramic view from its pinnacle, it on the inside displays many colourful murals on Buddhism and Thai history (fig.). See QUADCOPTER PICTURES (1) and (2), as well as TRAVEL PHOTO.