Thai Temples Terms and Glossary

Around 30 000 Buddhist temples are consecrated in Thailand. Thai Temples have vary architectural design and style in all Thailand areas. A temple, which may include not only congregation halls, but also a monastery, shrines, school and sports grounds etc.


Bot or Ubosot
The ordination hall, where new monks are ordained and other important ceremonies take place. The Bot is not necessarily the largest building in a temple compound, and may not always be open to the public. The Bot will always have an alter with at least one Buddha image, making it hard to tell the difference between a Bot and a Wiharn. The easiest way to tell the difference is that only the Bot will be surrounded by Sema stones.

Wihan or Wihara
It house important buddha images and are where the laity come to pray. While there will always only be one Bot in a temple, there can be several Wihan.

  Sema (Bai)
Boundary markers, always made of stone. The Bot is always surrounded by eight boundary stones, marking the sacred ground of the temple. The word bai means "leaf" in Thai. The stones are usually leaf-shaped.

Sometimes translated as stupa or even pagoda. This generally bell-shaped tower will usually contain a relic of the Buddha, but may also be built to contain the ashes of a king or important monk. The bell-shaped chedi evolved during the golden age of Ayutthaya.

  Cho Fa
Cho Fa are the decorations at the roof gables of the temple. It is believed to represent the mythical Garuda.

  Bell "Rakhang" Tower
Most of the temples will have bell or drum tower to call the faithful.

A more phallic-shaped tower that will be in the center of Ayutthaya and khmer-style temples. The prang is typically described as a "corn-cob" shape. Prangs can be found all over Ayutthaya.

Generally, any open-sided pavilion. In a temple, these may be used for lectures, Sermons or pilgrims. All temples contain at least one but usually many Buddha images and always facing east.

  Mondop or Ho Trai
Both of these terms could be translated as "library".
A Mondop is almost always square in shape, and may house objects of worship, scriptures or special images.
A Ho Trai was often built on stilts over a pond to minimize damage from insect.

The houses for monks and novices.

The Naga is a mythical serpent that according to legend, sheltered the Buddha while he was meditating.
In temple architecture, the Naga will often be used as a decorative motif for staircase that ascends to the Wihan or Bot and roof edges.

A huge statues giants stand in front of the temple. Yak are supposed to frighten the spirits or demons who would like to enter the Bot.

The Hongse is a mythical swan-like creature, the mount
of the God Brahma. It is often seen as a decoration for ornamental gates or standing on a tall pole in front of
the Wihan.

Look like the chinese " Kirin", Singhas alway suituated in front of the Bot, they represent power and strength.

A Hindu Gods.


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