Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chiang Rai's City Pillar

Most of the cities in Thailand have a 'city pillar', which is usually made of stone and situated in a spot that is considered to be the heart of the city. These religious pillars or omphalos are sometimes referred to as 'navel' pillars because they sit in the center of the city (not to be confused with the word 'naval', which refers to the navy.)

The Sadu Meuang (Navel City Pillar) of Chiang Rai is unusual because instead of being just one pillar it is made up of 109 separate pillars. It was constructed in 1987 to mark the occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's sixtieth birthday and the 725th anniversary of the City.

The monument was designed and built using the Khmer style in accordance with traditional Lanna beliefs, which reflects a combination of Buddhist and Hindu theology. There is a central column, which stands on a marble triangular base. This column is said to be five times as wide as His Majesty's fist and as high as His Majesty is tall. The other 108 columns are laid out around the central column, with the outside pillars signifying the earthly realm of human beings and the inner part comprising of six tiers representing the six realms of heaven (Catummaharajika, Tavatimsa, Yama, Tusita, Nimmanarati, and Paranimmitavasavatti).

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