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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Thailand series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring interesting facts that you must know about Thailand, Thai Culture and Thai People. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16: Wat Pho
Wat Pho, or วัดโพธิ์ หรือ วัดโพธาราม in Thai, is located to the south of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is one of the most important temples in Thailand. King Rama I or in Thai, รัชกาลที่ 1, ordered the restoration of Wat Phodharam, an old monastery from the Ayuttaya period, and had it re-established as a royal monastery. Some of the ashes of King Rama I were also kept under the pedestal of the principal Buddha image, known as พระพุทธเทวปฏิมากร, in the main chapel. Wat Pho was considered the "first open university” or in Thai มหาวิทยาลัยเปิดแห่งแรก, and it has ninety-nine chedis, which are a kind of Buddhist Stupa or burial mound, the most in Thailand. Wat Pho is such an important temple to the people of Thailand that all of the kings of the Chakri dynasty have gone to the trouble of restoring it.
There are several interesting things to see inside the temple, such as the Reclining Buddha, or in Thai พระพุทธรูปปางไสยาสน์ หรือ ปางนอนตะแคง. Created during the reign of Rama III, the Reclining Buddha is forty-six meters long and fifteen meters high, decorated with gold plating on his body and mother of pearl on his eyes and his feet. The bottom of Buddha's feet are intricately decorated with 108 auspicious scenes from religious history.
Phra Maha Chedi of the Four Reigns are chedis surrounded by white walls. Each entrance is guarded by a pair of Chinese rock guardians, or in Thai ตุ๊กตาหินจีน. Each chedi has twelve corners or notched-rim structures ending in a tall spire and is decorated with colorful mosaics.
Other than these buildings and chedis, Wat Pho also houses many intricately carved figurines of hermits, which King Rama I and King Rama III ordered to be sculpted to show different positions of healing massage techniques.
In the pavilion called ศาลาราย you can find inscriptions describing subjects such as medicine, politics, government, the history of the temple, and literature engraved on the stone plaques. The most famous portion of the pavilion is the library of Thai traditional massage inscriptions, in which thirty-two drawings of massage techniques were posted on the ceiling of the veranda. This is also the reason why Wat Pho is considered the first open university of Thailand.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What would you like to do if you were in Wat Pho?
Leave a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com! Until next time!