Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tripitaka Library in Wat Thung Si Muang - Temples in Ubon Ratchathani

Wat Thung Si Muang's Tripitaka Library or Scriptures Hall (Hortrai) is a wooden hall that stands in the middle of a pond (supposedly to keep ants and termites away from the wood instead of aesthetic purposes). It houses wooden scripture cabinets beautifully lacquered and decorated with gold leaf. Upon entrance, you only get to walk a single hallway that circles this rectangular building. There are supposedly four rooms, but all I saw were shelves in the central part of the room - and you cannot exactly peruse on its contents. Mostly, you are left observing the sparse Buddha displays, the hangings on the wall, and a scary replica of an old monk (most probably a replica of its founder, Phra Ariyawongsachan) at one corner of the hallway (notice the eerily growing hair from his almost bald scalp, gave me the creeps). 

Art-wise, this wooden building features a blend of different art styles: Thai-styled wooden partition walls with carving of zodiac animals and floral motifs at the bottom; Burmese-style tired roof with traditional Thai roof decorations, and Laotian sculpture on the gables. It's such an eye-catching building that even from a distance, it would catch your attention easily, with its beautiful dark brown color seducing the visual sense. 

Being a library - a repository of past knowledge - there are old writings on the wall in different styles as well: the Khmer scripts and the Thainoi scripts! palm-leaf manuscripts are kept inside. This is the only place that keeps Dhamma chests and Buddhist doctrine cabinets! these days, these manuscripts are being studied by specialized societies and universities (Mahasarakham University) for their historical values. There are things we could learn from how the people lived in the past. What's better, there is already an organization that tries to preserve these manuscripts - the Project for the Palm Leaf Preservation (Telephone number 043-754-427).

I love looking outside its windows because one could see the ubosot (ordination hall or main prayer hall) nearby; the wiharn (houses important Buddha structures where the laity could pray) and the temple's bell tower; and there are a few monks walking around. Of course, some lotus flowers are in bloom.

Wat Thung Si Muang and the Tripitaka (Tipitaka) Library are located along Luang Road, near Srinarong Road in the Muang District of Ubon.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Laotian sculptures on the gable.

View upon entry - shelves abound.

Scary replica of its founder. Since I was alone, I had goosebumps passing through the hallway. I somehow imagined this replica suddenly moving or gazing my way. 

A young monk walks by beside the main temple (ubosot).

Khmer scripts are ancient scripts that record goins-on in the world, like a newspaper chronicling events around the world, as well as the Dhamma issue. These are historical anecdotes. Khmer scripts and Thai scripts are used together. Khmer scripts are considered holy scripts recorded in Samut Koi (a long book made out of pulp from trees, palm lead manuscripts, gold leaf, silver and bronze leaves, and even mercury leaf). These scripts are found all over Thailand.

Thainoi scripts are ancient scripts found in northeastern Thailand. They are used to record stories related to life, tradition, culture, Isan folk tales, ancient herbal texts, and others. These scripts are usually placed in palm-leaf manuscripts in the Isan language. They are square shaped and inscribed from left to right.

The temple's wiharn and bell tower (left).

Five monk images made out of concrete as they guard the entrance to the ubosot.

A lotus flower 

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