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Phra Meru Mas (the royal crematorium) for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Phra Meru Mas (the royal crematorium) for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Phra Meru Mas (the royal crematorium) for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej Cr. Photo by The Standard.
( | Press Release | 2017-10-18 13:31:36 )
In the old belief, the King has divine status. The concept of trai bhum, or Buddhism cosmology features the universe and the existence of heaven and hell. The so-called universe concept comprises the centre, which is Mount Sumeru, surrounded by Mount Sattaboripan, the ocean and four continents where people live. The highest place serves as heaven where deities stay. It is believed the King is Narayana, who comes to earth for the sake of the world’s peace. When he dies, he returns to Mount Sumeru, the centre of the universe. The royal cremation is traditionally fashioned around this belief. The pyre is made in gold, called the Phra Meru Mas, which resembles Mount Sumeru. Technicians model the universe concept around the pyre, its landscaping, architecture and all elements at the cremation place.
In designing the royal crematorium, the designers adopted a layout plan resembling the universe based on Thai philosophy and beliefs. The centre of the royal crematorium which marks the focal point of the philosophical universe is where two invisible axes intersect; one running from the spire of the Phra Si Ratana Chedi pagoda in the adjacent Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram and the other from the middle of the phra ubosot in the nearby Wat Maha That Yuwarat Rangsarit Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan.

The structure is designed specifically for the funeral rites for a king, based on ancient royal traditions. Standing at 53 metres high, the edifice sits on a three-tiered, square shaped base with a staircase on each of the four sides, each side measuring 60 metres wide. The royal crematorium comprises of nine structures designed in the style of Busabok, an elaborate pavilion throne tapering up from the base into an ornately decorated tiered roof topped by a spire. Of the nine Busabok, the principal Busabok sitting on the top tier of the royal crematorium's base has a seven-tiered, spired roof, housing Phra Chittakathan, the catafalque for enshrining the royal urn made of sandalwood. Each of the four corners on the top tier of the royal crematorium's base is also placed with a smaller Busabok called Sang, a monk's pavilion with five-tiered roof, for monks to sit and prayer. The remaining four Busabok are located at each of the four corners on the second layer of the royal crematorium's base, bringing all the number of Busabok structures to nine.

The landscape surrounding the northern and southern entrances of the crematorium is designed to symbolise the royal duties of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the royal projects which are the King's brainchild. Close to the main entrance to the royal crematorium is a pond that is a visual representation of the kaem ling (monkey cheek) water retention areas for which the King was known. Close by are the Chai Phatthana water turbine and a paddy field surrounded by earthen dykes built in the shape of the Thai-style number nine in mixed colours of gold and of soil. The creation of these sculptures was based mainly on beliefs about the universe and Mount Meru (a sacred cosmological mountain with five peaks in Hindu cosmology). On top of that, is a special life-size sculpture of Thong Daeng, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's pet dog. The sculpture is placed close to the royal funeral urn to demonstrate the bond between King Rama IX and the dog he raised.

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Raveevarn Chanvijit


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