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Title: Thailand: The Symbolic Center of the Theravada Buddhist World 
Author: Rod-Ari, Melody
Date: 2009-08-14
Publisher: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract: The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok is considered the most sacred temple in Thailand. The temple’s sanctity is derived from its enshrinement of the Emerald Buddha, the nation’s religious and political palladium, for which the temple is named. Chronicles explain that the Emerald Buddha was fashioned from the Chakkavatti’s (Universal World Ruler) wish granting jewel, so that the image came to embody potent symbols of Buddhism and kingship through its form and medium. Its enshrinement in Bangkok symbolically marks the Temple of the Emerald Buddha as a Buddhist center, and its keeper, the King of Thailand, as the ultimate religious and political leader.
Prior to its enshrinement at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in 1784, the Emerald Buddha was described in chronicles as having traveled to important Buddhist centers throughout South and Southeast Asia. This paper focuses on the sacred geography that the Emerald Buddha has created through its movements, arguing that this geography, along with the royal patronage of the temple where it is enshrined, is an important religious and political tool for the self- promotion of Thai Kings and the promotion of Thailand as the sacred center of modern-day Theravada.
Description: This journal has been published at different time periods under the following titles: Explorations: A Graduate Student Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Explorations in Southeast Asian Studies, and The Journal of the Southeast Asian Studies Association. Rod-Ari, Melody. 2009. Thailand: The Symbolic Center of the Theravada Buddhist World. Explorations: A Graduate Student Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 9 (1):55-64.
Sponsorship: The Student Activities Program Fee Board
Pages/Duration: 10 pages
ISSN: 1945-8606 (Print)
1945-8614 (E-ISSN)
Keywords: Thailand, Art History

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