Wat Phra Singh - Jim Wageman

In the folder titled "Sacred Sites," the restored ruins of Buddhist temples—Sukhothai, Phimai, and others—can be found. The temples included in this "Buddhist Temples" folder are all actively functioning today as living places of worship.

Fine examples of traditional Thai art and architecture are often found within what has been the single most important institution in most Thai communities: the wat—temple or monastery. The Theravada Buddhism that these temples represent—and which plays an important role in the everyday lives of most Thais—encompasses strains from several belief systems that preceded it, originating not only in the area of what is now Thailand but in India and other neighboring countries as well. Those strains include strong echoes of prehistoric animism, Hinduism, and Brahmanism, all reflected in various architectural forms and much of the temples' iconography.

The temples seen in these galleries are among the most significant historically, architecturally, and/or artistically. However, they are presented here with no attempt to observe their chronological order, geographic location, or possible influences one from another (apart from whatever explanations may appear within individual galleries). We begin with a personal favorite: Chiang Mai's Wat Phra Singh.