Pa-o (Taungthu) Buddhist Monasteries in Thailand and Thaton, Myanmar Pa-o (Taungthu) Buddhist Monasteries in Thailand and Thaton, Myanmar

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Itsareeya Nunchai Chotima Chaturawong

Abstract

The architecture of the Pa-o or Taungthu in Thailand during the 19th to 20th centuries was built by merchants and headmen from Myanmar who were wealthy from teak trade in northern Thailand.  Case studies of Pa-o Buddhist monasteries in northern Thailand include Wat Sri Rong Muang and Wat Mon Pu Yak, Lampang; Wat Nong Kham, Chiang Mai; and Wat Nantaram, Phayao. In this study, they were compared with those of the Pa-o in Thaton, Myanmar, where previously was their centre. The study found that Pa-o Buddhist monasteries in northern Thailand and Thaton share similarities; they are a multi-purpose building and the principal architecture of the monastic compound.  A monastery includes a Buddha shrine; the main hall for ceremony and dharma preaching; sleeping areas for the abbot, monks, and novice; dining hall; bathrooms; and verandah.  However, Pa-o Buddhist monasteries in the two areas differ in directions.  Those in northern Thailand face their front to the south, and thus their Buddha shrine is located to the north.  Whereas Pa-o Buddhist monasteries in Thaton of Lower Myanmar often place the Buddha shrine to the south and face their front to the north parallel to houses of the Mon who have been the majority in the area.  Probably because Lower Myanmar has heavy rainfall and storms coming from the southwest, the Mon thus built their house to the rear of a verandah and staircase situated to the north in order to prevent wind and storms.

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