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For the community: Restoring famous Bangkok temple

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UNESCO award for restoration of pagoda at 200-year-old Wat Prayurawongsawas. Everyone got involved: families, temples & schools in local community. 

Wat Prayurawongsawas.


Mending the heart of a neighbourhood

The restoration of the principal pagoda at a Bangkok temple has gained international recognition and fostered a sense of community


Pichaya Svasti

The central pillar of Phra Borommathat Maha Chedi.

Standing tall and graceful on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok is the 60.5m-high white Phra Borommathat Maha Chedi of Wat Prayurawongsawas Worawihan. The almost 200-year-old iconic temple (or Wat Prayoon, as the locals call it) made headlines when the restoration of its ivory-white stupa and the adjoining hall, Pharin Pariyattithammasala, won the Award of Excellence in the 2013 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, marking the first time that a Thai project has been recognised with such an esteemed honour.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has recognised the restoration effort for its technical mastery in harmonising modern engineering with traditional techniques. More importantly, the award also recognises the cooperation between monks, specialists and locals in sustaining a sacred complex as the centre of community life...

...The bell-shaped stupa was built when the temple was established by leading bureaucrat Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Prayurawong (Dis Bunnag) in 1828. The temple was completed in 1836, but the stupa was not finished until several years later during the reign of King Rama IV. 

The adjoining hall, Pharin Pariyattithammasala, was built in 1885 by the temple founder' s son Chao Phraya Passakornwong (Pon Bunnag) in dedication to his parents. It initially served as a dhamma school for Buddhist monks and novices and then Thailand's first public library. Today, it is a museum...

According to the abbot, in 2005 he noticed the principal pagoda was leaning, so he sought advice from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lad Krabang. The university then sent an expert team, led by Assoc Prof Somsak Thammawetvithi, to check the pagoda and found it leaned 1m towards the river and also had a hand-sized hole in its top.

Wat Prayurawongsawas is nicknamed Wat Rua Lek (Temple With Iron Gates) because it is surrounded by iron gates imported from England.

Later, the people of the temple sought approval from the Department of Fine Arts to restore the stupa. However, some of the temple's proposed procedures were rejected by the department. For example, gold-coloured mosaics could not be applied to the white stupa, and the proposed instalment of pillars to support the stupa' s 144-tonne brick core was denied because that technique belongs to the Ayutthaya era, not the Rattakosin.

Most of the restoration work was carried out and completed in 2007 and 2008. However, the method to mend the bending central pillar had yet to be settled. The other parts of the pagoda and surrounding stupas were first mended and repainted, while lighting inside and around the stupa was improved. The entrance and leaking roof of the adjoining hall were fixed.

After the Lord Buddha's relics were found in the pagoda' s core in November 2007, the residents of the nearby Kadeejeen community unanimously agreed to relocate their ancestor' s ashes kept inside the pagoda to the outside walls. It took the whole of 2009 for the team from the university to come up with how to move the core to an upright position. ... The work was successfully completed in 2010...

Wat Prayurawongsawas is nicknamed Wat Rua Lek (Temple With Iron Gates) because it is surrounded by iron gates imported from England...

...Internationally, the project has won awards from two organisations in England and France for reviving the relationship between families, temples and schools. In addition, Unesco France praised the project for promoting the importance of civic groups...

Abbot Phra Brahmapundit concluded: "Restoring old things is harder and dearer than rebuilding with the use of modern technology. The keys to success are patience and processes for all to learn together. The original value must be preserved."

Phra Borommathat Maha Chedi, the principal pagoda of Wat Prayurawongsawas in Thon Buri.

Pharin Pariyattithammasala, the hall adjoining Phra Borommathat Maha Chedi, serves as a museum.

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abbot: the head monk at a temple - เจ้าอาวาส

adjoin: to be next to and connected to - มีเขตแดนติดกัน

advice: an opinion or a suggestion about what somebody should do in a particular situation - คำแนะนำ

ancestor: a person, plant, animal or object that is related to one existing at a later point in time (adjective form: ancestral) - บรรพบุรุษ

applied to: put on -

approval: official permission - การอนุมัต

ash: the grey powder that remains after something has burned - เถ้าถ่าน, ขี้เถ้

award: a prize or a sum of money that is given to someone following an official decision - รางวัล

banks: the raised areas of land along the side of a river - ริมฝั่งแม่น้ำ, ตลิ่ง

bend: a curve - โค้ง

brick: baked clay used for building walls, houses and other buildings - อิฐ

bureaucrats: people who work in government departments - ข้าราชการ

carry out: to do something, to finish and complete a task - ทำให้สมบูรณ์, ทำให้สำเร็จ

civic group: a group made up of citizens rather than government officials -

come up with: to suggest or think of an idea or plan - คิดขึ้นมา

community: a group of people who share the same job, interests, religion, etc - สังคม

community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน

complete: to finish something; to bring some project to an end after having done everything successfully - ทำเสร็จ, ทำให้สมบูรณ์

complex: an area that has several parts - พื้นที่ประกอบด้วยส่วนต่าง ๆ

conservation: the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity - การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้

cooperation: working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides - ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน

core: the most important or most basic part of something - ที่สำคัญที่สุด

cultural: related to the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม

dear: expensive -

denial: a refusal to allow somebody to have something - การปฎิเสธ, การไม่ยอมรับ

Dhamma: Buddhist teaching, known as the truth taught by the Buddha - ธรรมะ

effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม

engineer: to arrange for something to happen, especially in a useful and skilful way - วางแผน

entrance: a door, gate, passage, etc. used for entering a room, building or place - ทางเข้า

establish: to start something, e.g. a company, organisation, fund, project, etc. that will likely continue for a long time - สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง

esteemed: highly admired and respected - ซึ่งได้รับการยกย่อง, น่าเคารพ, น่านับถือ

excellence: the quality of being extremely good - ความเป็นเลิศ

expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ

foster: to encourage something to develop - สนับสนุน

founder: a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง

harmonise: to go well together with something else and produce an attractive result - เข้ากันได้

headline: the title of a newspaper story that is printed in large letters - ข่าวพาดหัว

heritage: the art, buildings, traditions, and beliefs that a society considers important to its history and culture - มรดก ประเพณีที่ตกทอด

honour: an award, official title, etc. given to somebody as a reward for something that they have done - เกียรติยศ, เหรียญตรา

iconic: well known and acting as a sign or symbol of something - มีชื่อเสียงและเป็นสัญลักษณ์แทนบาง

in dedication to: to build or do something for other people -

initially: at the beginning - ในเบื้องต้น

international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ

leading: among the first and most important in a group - ชั้นหนึ่ง, ชั้นแนวหน้า, ชั้นนำ

leak: (of a liquid or gas) to flow out of a hole or crack - รั่ว

lean: to stand or be set at an angle - เอียง, เอน

library: a place with books that can be borrowed to read for a period of time and then returned - ห้องสมุด

lighting: illumination, all the lights at a place and how much light exists there - การจัดแสง, การจัดไฟ

local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น

mark: to show that something is happening or happened - เป็นเครืองแสดง เป็นการเริ่มต้น

mend: repair, fix -

mosaic: a pattern or picture made using many small pieces of colored stone or glass - ลวดลายที่ทำด้วยกระจกสี

museum: a building where objects of historical, scientific or artistic interest are kept - พิพิธภัณฑ์

neighbourhood: a particular area of a city or town - ละแวก, ย่าน

notice: to see or hear somebody/something; to become aware of somebody/something - สังเกต

novice: someone who has entered a religious community but is not yet a full member - สามเณร

pagoda: a temple in S or E Asia in the form of a tall tower with several levels - เจดีย์

pillar: a strong column made of stone, metal or wood which supports part of a building or structure - เสาหลัก

position: to put somebody/something in a particular place or position - จัดวาง, วางที่, วางตำแหน่ง

praise: to express strong approval or admiration - ยกย่อง, ชื่นชม

preserve: to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed - ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน

principal: main or most important - สำคัญ เป็นหลัก

procedure: a way of doing something - ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ

project: a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ

proposed: suggested as an idea for a group to consider - ถูกเสนอ

public: open to people in general - สาธารณะ

recognise: to give praise or approval to someone or something - เป็นที่ชื่นชม ยกย่อง

recognition: public praise and reward for somebody's work or actions, the act of accepting that something exists, is true or is official - การยอมรับ

reign: (of a king or queen) to officially rule a country - ครองราชย์

reject: to not accept something - ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ

relationship: the way in which two people, groups or countries behave towards each other or deal with each other - ความสัมพันธ์

relics: the bones of someone who has been cremated - อัฐิ

relocate: to move someone or something to another place - โยกย้ายประชาชนออกจากบริเวณ

resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้ที่อาศัยในท้องที่

restoration: the work of repairing and cleaning something, etc. so that its condition is as good as it originally was - การซ่อมแซม,การการบูรณะ, การกลับสู่สภาพปกติ

restore: to bring back to good condition - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ

revive: to come or bring something back to existence or use - ฟื้นฟู, ทำให้เกิดขึ้นอีก

sacred: considered to be holy - ศักดิ์สิทธิ์

settle: to decide or arrange something - ตัดสินใจ

shape: the form of the outer edges or surfaces of something - รูปร่าง, รูปทรง, โครงร่าง

sought (past tense of seek): tried to get/do something; asked for something - พยายามได้, พยายามได้มา

specialist: a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study - ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง

stupa: a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics - สถูป, พระปรางค์

surround: to be everywhere around something - ล้อมรอบ

surrounded: having something,people, etc. completely around all sides - ถูกล้อมรอบ

sustain: to keep someone alive; to give someone strength, energy, or hope - ทำให้มีชีวิตต่อไป, ทำให้มีต่อไป

technical: connected with the skills needed for a particular job, sport, art, etc; connected with practical methods for doing something - ในทางเทคนิค

technique: a method of doing something using a special skill that you have developed - เทคนิค, กลวิธี (เฉพาะด้าน)

traditional: things (buildings, clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time - แบบดั้งเดิม, เป็นประเพณี

unanimously: when everyone agrees to something; harmoniously, unitedly, collectively, unanimously - อย่างเป็นเอกฉันท์, อย่างไม่มีข้อโต้แย้ง] อย่างเต็มใจ, อย่างยินยอมพร้อมใจ

upright: placed in a vertical position; - ที่ตั้งขึ้น, ที่ตั้งตรง

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