Wat Srisuphan – The first Temple with silver ordination hall in the world
Wat Srisuphan – The Silver Temple
History: According to the inscriptions found locally on Red Sandstone, King Muang Kæw (1495-1526) of the Mangrai dynasty and his mother ordered a military offical called Khun Luang Ja Kham to bring a Buddha statue to this place and they built a temple in the year 1500 CE. In ancient times the temple was called Srisuphan Aram (= Temple). Later, the Vihara, Chetiya and Ubosot were built in that order and were completed around ten years later. All the buildings together with the surrounding areas and twenty families were given to take care of the Temple.
Srisuphan Temple has been a vast source of knowledge concerning the art, culture, education and handicrafts, including lost-wax casting and silverwork, from the past until the present. There is still a living culture regarding these handicrafts, but knowledge about statue-casting, silverwork and other handicrafts are in danger these days owing to the changing times and there are not many people to whom this knowledge is being passed on.
Ven. Phra Kru Pitak Sutthikhun, the Abbot of Srisuphan Temple since 1992, and the Committee of Srisuphan are well aware of the problems and intend to preserve and maintain the heritage passed down in the culture from their predecessors. Therefore they have outlined the many activities that are needed to lead to the vision, mission and objectives of the Temple. They are supported by the Sangha in Chiang Mai, and also by the National Office of Buddhism, the Government and by the private sector who appreciate local culture and knowledge especially in regard to Lanna craftsmanship at Sri Suphan Temple.
Current Tasks, Activities & Projects
To sustain the propagation of the Dhamma, the traditions and local culture by playing a critical role as a Temple in the local community.
To encourage and collaborate with the education system under the Royal Act on Education in 1998.
To maintain and promote indigenous silver handicrafts
We propose to support these aims as follows:
Establish a group of craftsmen trained in the Lanna traditions at Sri Suphan Temple (ongoing from 2000 CE – Present).
Establish a study center for ancient Lanna Arts at Sri Suphan Temple.
Establish a distribution center for the products produced at the Sri Suphan community. The Community was selected by a Government scheme to promote local production. This effectively generates income for the local people.
The Saturday Walk on the nearby Wualai Road with the collaboration of the Sri Suphan, Wat Mueansarn and Wat Nandharam Communities, which is supported by the Chiang Mai Municipality. These events have rapidly helped to build up economic development in the community.
Building a Silver Ubosot at Sri Suphan Temple, dedicated to promoting the dispensation of the Buddha and glorifying His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the anniversary of his 84th birthday. The decoration is made with silver and aluminum handicrafts, a heritage that has been passed down from our predecessors over the past 200 years. The original Ubosot was a brick structure plastered with cement. The dimension of the new Ubosot is 50m long, 17m wide and 18m high, and is in traditional Lanna style. The renovation of this building has been going on since the year 2005, and so far 12 million baht have been spent, and the progress of the work was about 60 percent complete by the year 2010. An additional 13 million baht will be needed to complete the renovation.
Monk chat and Meditation Programs provided to foreigners so they can learn the Buddha’s teaching and get advice from monks for beginning meditation. Currently the program is available three days a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (monk chat is from 5.30pm – 7.00pm and meditation is from 7.00pm – 9.00pm).
A Learning Center for silver handicrafts and Lanna folk art (this initiative has yet to start).
The projects are based on the doctrine and discipline in Buddhism, integrated with the King’s philosophy of economic sufficiency to achieve the sustainability of the Buddha’s dispensation, local communities and the country.
The Result over the Past 10 Years: even though there is a change in development that has contributed to a positive outcome for the community, the approach has not yet lead to the achievement of all our goals on each project as expected. There are various obstacles that have been encountered, which we can list as follows:
Social problems such as varieties of nationality, conflicts of interest, competition, non-cooperation, a lack of self-sacrifice and so on.
Insufficient liquidity to run the projects. The fund is fluctuating and relies only on donors. The projects are not firmly established and remuneration is unpredictable, making it difficult to proceed.
A lack of awareness about our cultural heritage and local knowledge, and a lack of motivation.
A lack of good public relations with the public in terms of communicating our objectives.
Such problems and obstacles have been encountered, but Sri Suphan Temple and those who are involved have been seeking a solution to these problems and making efforts to overcome them. However, to achieve the task they need support from the Government, the private sector and those who appreciate the local culture and knowledge, by participation at all levels to achieve our objectives together so as to sustain the Lanna traditions and keep alive the dispensation of the Buddha, and to glorify our King, Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty.