Phra Bang

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The Phra Bang Buddha, palladium of Lan Xang and namesake of Luang Prabang, Laos. The Phra Bang is regarded as the most sacred and culturally significant Buddha image in Laos. The image is Khmer in origin and cast using an alloy of bronze, gold and silver.

The Phra Bang ("Royal Buddha Image in the Dispelling Fear mudra)," Lao (ພະ + ບາງ) is the palladium of Laos. The Lao-language name for the image has been transliterated in a number of ways, including "Pra Bang," "Prabang," "Phabang" and "Pha Bang." The statue is an 83 cm-high standing Buddha with palms facing forward, cast using thong an alloy of bronze, gold, and silver. According to local lore, it was cast in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) sometime between the 1st and 9th century. However, the features of the image suggest a much later Khmer origin.

The Phra Bang arrived in Lan Xang during the reign of Fa Ngum from Angkor, and was used to spread Theravada Buddhism in the new kingdom.[1]:225–226 In 1359 the Khmer king gave the Phra Bang to his son-in-law, the first Lang Xang monarch Fa Ngum (1353-1373); to provide Buddhist legitimacy both to Fa Ngum's rule and by extension to the sovereignty of Laos. The former Lao capital Luang Prabang, where it was kept, is named after the Buddha image.

The Phra Bang has long been seen by devout Buddhists as a symbol of the right to rule Laos, as only a commendable and virtuous government deserves to be caretaker of such a sacred image. In 1778, the Siamese (now Thai) invaded Viang Chan and captured the Phra Bang, taking it back to Bangkok. There, political upheaval and misfortune were attributed to the Phra Bang, and in 1782 it was returned to the Lao people. Again in 1828, the Siamese captured the Phra Bang but again returned it in 1867 after a similar of political upheaval.

Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang

As of September 2006, the Phra Bang is located in a room in the Royal Palace Museum (Haw Kham) in Luang Prabang. Each year, on the third day of "Pimai" or Lao New Year, the Phra Bang is taken in procession to Wat Mai. There it is exhibited at a shrine where the Buddha image is ritually bathed by devout laypeople during Lao New Year festivities.

On Saturday December 14, 2013 the Prabang Buddha will be taken out of the National Museum and brought to Vat Phabang Thevarat. The Temple to be erected as earlier in this posting has till date not been finished. It is not clear (yet) if the Prabang Buddha image will be moved again once this building (if ever) is finished.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1. 

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Coordinates: 19°53′30″N 102°08′11″E / 19.8918°N 102.1364°E / 19.8918; 102.1364