The Chinnarat Buddha
Pra Buddha Chinnarat is an image of Buddha which is well known among Thai Buddhists and foreigners. The reason for this is that it is the most beautiful and prestigious image of Buddha. It is the highest class of sculpture in Buddhistic Arts. The artisans who built the images are believed to have an original imagination without imitation from anywhere else.
Pra Buddha Chinnarat is a Buddha image that belongs to the Sukhothai Art and is made of bronze. The gesture is Marn Vichai with a lap of 2.85 meters wide (equals the length of Thai measurement system: 5 human’s elbows 1 double finger and 5 fingers) and 3.72 meters high (equals the length of Thai measurement system: 7 human’s elbows and 1 double finger) sitting on a concrete base ornamented with patterns of upside up and down lotuses. According to the Northern history text concerning the casting of Pra Buddha Chinnarat image, Pra Buddha Chinnasi image, and Pra Sri Sardsada image, it is stated that “in the year 957 (B.E. 1500) and some texts stated the year to be 1357 (B.E. 1900) Pra Chao Sri Dhamma Tri Pidok or Pra Maha Dhamma Raja Li Thai, after the completion of Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat, commanded 5 renowned Brahmans: named Ba Indra, Ba Brahm, Ba Phissanu, Ba Raja Singh, and Ba Raja Kusol including artisans from Sri Sachanarai, Sawankhalok, Chiang Saen and Hari Phun Chai to cast 3 Buddha images as the Principal images of the Viharn: Pra Buddha Chinnarat, Pra Buddha Chinnasi, and Pra Sri Sardsada.
During the casting of Buddha images, Northern history text stated that upon the completion of casting, only 2 perfect images accomplished: Pra Buddha Chinnasi, and Pra Sri Sardsada. Pra Buddha Chinnarat didn’t appear complete which was uncommon. On the third attempts, it was still the same. Pra Chao Sri Dhamma Tri Pidok prayered to an angel to inspire the success of the image casting as intended. On Thursday night, on the 8th of the lunar month, month 6, year 1357 (J.B. 319) (B.E. 1900) the gold pouring ceremony had been held once again. This time there was a Tapakao person, a hermit; no one knew where he came from. He helped sculpture and pour gold by himself. Taken out of the mold, the image was a surprise because the golden sheet was all over the image resulting in a spectacular, golden and sparkling image.
The 1st gold gilding: Pra Buddha Chinnarat wasn’t colored and gilded with 100% gold leaf like what it is in the present time. There was a record of the first gold gilding during King Ekatosarod when he came to pay respect to Pra Buddha Chinnarat. In addition, according to the record in Krung Sri Ayuthaya history text written by the royal secretary, Somdej Krom Pra Poramanuchidchinoros, he stated that “ In 1603 (B.E. 2146), King Ekatosarod paid his royal visit to pay respect to Pra Buddha Chinnarat. He commanded that gold, royal commodity be made in gold and color to cover Pra Buddha Chinnarat by himself. When it was complete, a celebration had been held in respect to the Buddha statue for 7 days and 7 nights. It was a gigantic celebration…”
The 2nd gold gilding: In the reign of King Rama V (Chulachomklao), his royal majesty came to pour metal to cast the replica of Pra Buddha Chinnarat. According to the record in the royal diary, during the royal visit to the northern province of King Rama V, it stated in a section that on October 17th in the year of Ratanakosin 120 (B.E. 2444), “Today, in an early morning, 52 minutes, gold gilding of Pra Buddha Chinnarat, I covered the gold leaves all over the face of the stsute as King Ekatosarod did to Pra Buddha Chinnarat and as King Rama IV (Chomklao) did to Pra Buddha Chinnasi, and the royal relatives, aristocrats, and artisans of the Department of Coloring completed the rest at 2 o’clock in the afternoon…”
The 3rd gold gilding: King Rama IX (Bhumipol Adulayadej) requested the Crown Prince to represent him to gild the face of Pra Buddha Chinnarat on July 6th, 2004 (B.E. 2547) and the craftsmen of the Department of Silapakorn continued to finish it. From December 1st -9th, 2004, 9 days 9 nights in total, the celebration was arranged as traditionally usual. Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn presided the celebration of Pra Buddha Chinnarat on December 1st, 2004
Pra Buddha Chinnarat is decorated with glass and teak composition carved and painted with color and gilded with gold leaves. The composition is exquisite with craftsmanship and enhances the beauty of Pra Buddha Chinnarat. It is assumed that the composition was built in the early years of Ayudthaya Period. Nowadays, Pra Buddha Chinnarat is established in a Viharn of Wat Prasriratatna Mahathat Worawiharn. The image is recognized as beautiful and sacred. It is widely worshipped by Buddhists.
Pra Buddha Sri Dhamma Tri Pidok or Pra Maha Dhamma Raja Li Thai, after the completion of building of Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat wanted to cast 3 Buddha images as the Principal image in the Viharn. The king got 5 Brahmans named Ba Indra, Ba Brahm, Ba Phissanu, Ba Raja Singh, and Ba Raja Kusol. The king asked for renowned sculptonrs from Sri Sachanalai town, Swankhalok together with first class artisans from Chiang Saen and Hari Phun Chai to assist in the casting of the 3 Buddha images.
Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat Phitsanulok
Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat Phitsanulok, Phitsanulok Province, is generally called WAT YAI or WAT LUANG POR PRA BUDDHA CHINNARAT. It was a royal temple that was originally built in the Sukhothai Dynasty in 1905, King Mongkut promoted it to be the first rated royal temple, worawihan, in 1915. At present, it is named in full Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat. It is an ancient temple that is very important historically and anthropologically. Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat Phitsanulok is located on the east bank of Nan River opposite from the Phitsanulok City Hall. Prince Damrong Rajanupab said about Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat Phitsanulok that “The temple is big and more important than other temples in Phitsanulok and may be built in the Sukhothai period and renovated from time to time”. Some said it may be built at the beginning of Sukhothai period. However, the Northern history textbook stated that “In the year approximately 1357 (B.E. 1900) Pra Chao Sri Dhamma Tri Pidok (Pra Maha Dhamma Raja, King Li Thai) was a king of Sukothai, who was a true believer in Buddhism. He also studied Tri-Pidok, trilogy of Buddhism, and teachings of other religions profoundly. He commanded that Wat Pra Sri Mahathat be built on the East side with a Pagoda in the middle, 4 viharns at the 4 corners with 2 terraces, and 3 Buddha images were casted to be the principal Buddha statue in the temple. There are many invaluable ruins and artifacts. Somdej Pra Chao Boromwong Ther Praya Narissara (Prince Naris) wrote “After paying respect to Pra Buddha Chinnarat, I took notice on pulpits, the pavilion, and others that were so outstanding that I have never seen such exquisite things like these before.” For the planning of Wat, Pra Prang was the main construction of the Wat. Pra Prang is urrounded by corridors and Viharns. The Viharn in the east was the location of Pra Attaros which was called Viharn with 9 rooms. At present, there are only Pra Attaros, columns and parts of the mound of Pra Viharn. On the west Pra Viharn rested Pra Buddha Chinnarat. On the north Pra Viharn, Pra Buddha Chinnasi was situated On the south Pra Viharn , Pra Srisardsada was seated. Pra Buddha chinsi and Pra Sardsada are currently established at Wat Bawarnivas Viharn in Bangkok. Thus, Wat Pra Sri Rattana Mahathat built replicas to replace the originals.