Little Bits of History

Jasper Doesn’t Have the Same Panache

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 22, 2015
Emerald Buddha *

Emerald Buddha *

March 22, 1784: The Emerald Buddha is moved. The Kingdom of Thailand counts this statue as its palladium, an image or object of antiquity on which they depend for safety. The original Palladium was a wooden statue of Pallas Athena which Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to Rome by Aeneas. It remained there until it was moved to Constantinople and was lost. The Emerald Buddha is a figurine of the meditating Buddha in seated yogic posture. It is not made of emerald, but instead is made of green jasper, a type of quartz and/or chalcedony. Jasper’s most common color is red and rarely it comes in blue. Jasper is one of the traditional stones of March. The Emerald Buddha is about 30 inches tall and is clothed in gold.

Legend states the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena, a Buddhist sage from Kashmir, who made the statue in the city of Pataliputra where it remained for 300 years. After that, the statue was taken to Sri Lanka to save it from harm during a civil war. In 457, a Burmese king requested the statue and scriptures to be sent home to help with study in his country. While in transport, the ship was caught in a storm and the statue ended up in Cambodia. The Thais captured Angkor Wat in 1432 and with it the Emerald Buddha which was moved to Laos where it was hidden.

Historical sources note the surfacing of the Emerald Buddha in Thailand in the Lannathai kingdom in 1434. One record states the statue was in a building struck by lightning and when it was dug out it was thought to be made from emerald, hence the name. A less romantic version says that in Thailand “emerald” simply means “green colored” and is not specific. An elephant carrying the statue was supposed to go to Chiang Mai, but would not travel there and went to Lampang three times. This was seen as a divine sign and the Emerald Buddha stayed there until 1468 when it was finally taken to Chiang Mai. It stayed there until 1552. It was then taken to Luang Prabang until 1564 when it was brought to Vientiane. In 1779 it was captured during an insurrection and brought to Siam and on this day, it was ceremoniously moved to its current home – Wat Phra Kaew.

Wat Phra Kaew literally means Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. It is located in the Phra Nakhon District or the historic center of Bangkok. The Buddha has remained in the specially built temple for hundreds of years. He has three different sets of gold clothing. The King of Thailand or a liaison changes the Buddha’s outfit at the changing of the season, around March, July, and November. The three sets of clothes correspond to Thailand’s three seasons – the summer season, the rainy season, and the cool season. Two sets of golden garments are displayed at the Pavilion of Regalia on the grounds of the Grand Palace when the statue is not wearing them. There they can be viewed by the public.

If you have a preconceived idea of the first principle, that idea is topsy-turvy, and as long as you seek a first principle that is something to be applied in one way to every occasion, you will have topsy-turvy ideas. Such ideas are not necessary. Buddha’s great light shines forth from everything, each moment. – Shunryu Suzuki

Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

Also on this day: Laser – In 1960, the laser was patented.
Hockey is Rough – In 1989, Clint Malarchuk was hurt during a hockey game.
Flying Wallendas – In 1978, Karl Wallenda died from a fall.
Preschool Predicament – In 1984, the McMartin Preschool indictments were brought.
Elite Golf – In 1934, the first Augusta National Invitational Tournament was held.

* Picture by Gremel Madolora

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