The current ruins of Sukhothai were once the capital of the kingdom of the same name. It is considered the cradle of Thai architecture, which is Buddhist influenced and has elements of Khmer culture. Of the almost 40 temple complexes, Wat Mahathat was the most important sanctuary in the first royal city. Sukhothai became part of the Ayutthaya empire in the 14th century and fell into disrepair.
Sukhothai Ruins: Facts
|Official title:||Sukhothai ruins|
|Cultural monument:||historical center of the old royal city of Siam with evidence of Buddhist architecture, which also reveals influences of the Khmer culture of Angkor; 37 temple complexes such as Wat Ta Pha Daeng and Wat Si Sawai, Wat Mahathat (king temple) with large, upright Buddha statues and originally 185 chedis (repositories of relics), Wat Si Chum with a colossal Buddha sculpture and Wat Phra Pai Luang with a Buddha statue Face resembles the portrait of King Jayavarman VII|
|Location:||Sukhothai, north of Bangkok|
|Meaning:||first capital of the Kingdom of Siam and the cradle of Thai architecture|
Sukhothai Ruins: History
|1238||Establishment of the Sukhothai Empire|
|1240-70||Reign of Rama (King) Indraditya|
|around 1279-98||Reign of Rama (King) Khamhaeng|
|1350||Establishment of the empire of Ayutthayaab|
|1349/50||Sukhothai vassal of the New Kingdom of Ayutthaya|
|1834||Rediscovery of the inscription by Rama Khamhaeng (1292)|
Lotus flowers for the father of Thai
The Buddha statue in the museum has a special charisma: the enlightened one seems to be walking slowly, one foot is set in front of the other, his body is in harmonious movement. The sculpture of a slim, almost elegant figure with the even, oval-cut face and a facial expression that appears friendly, gentle, almost transfigured, interprets the person of Siddharta Gautama Buddha in an unusual way. But it represents an art style that arose as the peoples of the Thai found freedom and self-determination in an independent state for the first time.
On the eve of the Thai New Year celebrations, the man who went down in history as the “father of Thai” will be honored in the former royal city on the banks of the Menam River. Military members of all branches of service, high representatives from politics and business, monks from the surrounding monasteries and guests from all walks of life celebrate the ceremony for Rama (King) Khamhaeng, listen more or less interested to the many speeches and admire graceful dancers and muscular swordsmen.
Immortalized in a colossal bronze monument, the king is enthroned over the festival community. His confident gaze sweeps over the wide plain of the surrounding fertile alluvial land, in which numerous ruins of temples and palaces are reminiscent of a glorious time.
Under Rama Khamhaeng, the previous rulers of the country were ousted in the 13th century, the Khmer to Cambodia and the Mon to what is now Myanmar. Sukhothai – »Birth of Bliss« – blossomed as the capital of the new empire, which in its expansion roughly corresponded to today’s Thailand according to programingplease. The new state, which quickly developed its own identity through reforms, openness to the world and energy, was also based on the spiritual foundations of the Khmer and Mon.
A writing stone from Sukhothai is the oldest evidence of the Thai letter alphabet, which was developed under the reign of Rama Khamhaeng. He brought monks into the country from Ceylon and with their help established Theravada Buddhism as the main religion. New approaches in architecture and art created a style that also includes the “walking Buddha”.
Wat Mahathat was the most important sanctuary of the first Siamese royal city. In the central chedi, the typical, tower-like component of Buddhist temples, the amalgamation of different art styles becomes clear. The reliefs on the square base, which show a procession of striding disciples of the Buddha, are new. The top of the chedi ends with the motif of a lotus bud.
Artificial lakes full of lotus blossoms were created between the temples, in which the temples are picturesquely reflected to this day. Wat Sra Si rises on an island with its rows of columns, the seated Buddha and the tall chedi. When Loy Krathong, the great festival of lights, is celebrated on the night of the full moon in November, boats made of banana leaves, decorated with flowers and burning candles, are floated on the lake. Bright moonlight then illuminates the temple, and countless points of light jump over the surface of the water.
The 14 meter high seated Buddha statue in Wat Si Chum, which is enclosed by a mighty block of wall, is still highly worshiped by believers. Only a narrow gap opens the view and access to the sanctuary. There, Buddha has been smiling at his visitors for seven centuries.
The kingdom of Sukhothai merged into the kingdom of Ayutthaya, the buildings fell into disrepair and were gradually covered by the dust of the centuries. But the influence of the first Thai state on the cultural, religious and political identity of the Thai has remained alive to this day.