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Home > Jewelry Education > Thailand Buddhas > Emerald Buddha

Emerald Buddha

Emerald BuddhaThe Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot) is the palladium of Thailand. It is situated in Wat Phra Kaew, at the King’s residence, the Royal Grand Palace. In fact, the Emerald Buddha is made of jade, not emerald. The Buddha was first discovered in 1434 in Chiangrai, a northern province of Thailand, by an abbot. At that time the image had been covered with plaster and considered an ordinary image. However, the abbot found that the plaster was flaked off, revealing the green stone underneath. The abbot had thought that the green stone was emerald, which resulted in the beginning of the legend of the Emerald Buddha image. At that time, Chiangrai was ruled by the King Samfangkaen, the King of Chiangmai, and a lot of people traveled to Chiangrai in order to worship this image. As a result, the King decided to move the image to Chiangmai. He sent out an elephant three times to bring the image. Nevertheless, each time the elephant had run to Lampang, instead of returning to Chiangmai. The King believed that spirits guarding the image wanted to stay in Lampang. As a result, the image had been allowed to situate there until 1468, before it was brought to Wat Chedi Luang in Chiangmai by the King Tiloka.

In the mid 16th century, the King of Chiangmai did not have a son. His daughter was married to the King of Laos and gave birth to a son, Prince Chaichetta. In 1551 the King died. Prince Chaichetta who was fifteen years old at that time, became the King of Chiangmai. However, when his father died, he was asked to come back to Laos and inherit the throne. As a result, King Chichetta went back to Luang Pharbang in 1552, where later became the capital of Laos, and brought the Emerald Buddha with him. He made a promise to the ministers that he would return the image to Chiangmai but he never sent it back. Twelve years later, the Burmese army, ruled by King Bayinnaung invaded Laung Phrabang. He chased out the King Chaichetta. The King Bayinnuang took the Emerald Buddha image to Vientiane, his new capital. The image was situated there for another 214 years.
In 1778, during the Thonburi period, King Rama I, who was still a general at that time, invaded Vientiane and brought the image back to Thonburi and the image has been in Thailand ever since. When King Rama I established Bangkok as the capital, also the Rattanakosin period and the Chakri Dynasty started, the Emerald Buddha became the palladium of Thailand. The image was brought from Thonburi to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside the Grand Palace on Monday, the 14th waning moon of the 4th Lunar Month, Year of the Dragon, 1784.
There are three seasonal costumes for the Emerald Buddha. Two for summer and rainy seasons, were made by King Rama I whereas the other, winter season, by King Rama III. The ceremony of changing the costumes occurs three times a year and is done by his majesty the King.

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