Wat Pra Singh Luang
Wat Pra Singh is now the number one monastery in Chiang Mai and indeed in the fifth Administrative circle for religious affairs. It is called “the great temple” and it is regular meting place for all the monks for all the monks for administrative purposes.
Prior to 1345 the land on which Wat Pra Singh stands was a market place called “Lee Chiang”. In 1345 King pa Yo (1336-1355) of Lanna Thai declared it to be the site of a monastery and erected the Chedi now behind the Viharn to contain the ashes of his father. King Khum Pu (1313- 1336).
Under King San Muang Ma (1385-1401) the wat took on greater prestige. A special crypt was built to receive the treasured Ceylon Buddha. the Pra Sihing. This is the most interesting image because of the vicissitudes of its travels. It is a seated image in the attitude calling the earth to witness. It was miraculously made in Ceylon. The firth king of Sukhotai got it from Ceylon. It was seized by the King of Ayudthaya. The Governor of Kampangpet obtained it by trickery. The Prince of Chiang Rai took it by force and gave it to his nephew, the King of Lanna Thai, as a peace offering after trying to seize his throne. In 1389 it was installed in Wat Pra Singh. About 1548 it was taken to Luang Pra Bang by Prince Jetta. It was retured to Chiang Mai. It was seized by the king of Siam and returned to Chiang Mai again in 1767 and. there it is to this day.
Or is it? There are two other Pra Sihing images of Buddha also claiming to the original. One is at Wat Mahatat in Nakorn Sritamarat and the other at the National Museum in Bangkok. The image at Sritamarat ashored by the survivor of a ship wreck, the vessel having come from Ceylon.
Those who support the Bangkok Pra Sihing say that it was brought from Luang Prabang. It was captured by Chao Phaya Chakri (Rama I) along with the Emerald Buddha.
Every year at New Year’s Day (Jan 1st), the Buddha is brought from the museum in Bangkok to the Prameru Ground. Here libations of scented water are poured over it.
There are two other images of great sanctity at Wat Pra Singh. The first is Pra Chao Tong Tip. It is of bronze inlaid with gems and is approximately two feet tall. It was cat in 1477, presumably to celebrate the great 8th Buddhist Council which concluded its work that year. It is in the Victory over Mara posture.
The other Buddha is a large bronze about 7 feet 7 inches tall. It has an unusually good expression and is in the Victory over Mara posture also. It is thought to have been cast in 1492 by order of the widow of King Tilokarat. For ears it was at Wat Rampoeg and was finally brought to Wat Pra Singh. All images are supposed to have 360 curls.