Wat Sisaket, Vientiane
This temple is a historical paradox, because it is both the oldest and the most recent temple of Vientiane.
Indeed, it was only built a few years before the arrival of the Siamese in the city at the beginning of the 19th century, and yet it is the oldest, because it was the only one not destroyed by the invaders. Vat Sisakhet was founded exactly on Thursday, March 4, 1819 by Chao Anou, the last king of Vientiane, also known as Anouvong.
At its foundation, it had a name of Pali origin - Wat Sattasahatsa Vihararama - which means the monastery of the one hundred thousand blessed. It is believed that it was renamed Vat Sisakhet by the first Laotians, who returned to Vientiane after their mass deportation on the right bank of the Mekong River and who, while inspecting the monastery, discovered this great image of the Buddha with his large head (sisa in pali) and the flame that surmounts it (ketu).
On the left, before the entrance to the cloister and directly onto Lane Xang Avenue, is the old temple library. The large cupboard previously contained many manuscripts on latana leaves. In passing, you will notice that the roof of the building (four-storey roof) is of Burmese inspiration.
Originally, the sim (or central sanctuary) and the cloister contained more than nine thousand images or statues of the Buddha evoking the miracle of Sravasti, where the Buddha multiplied his image to infinity. During the Siamese invasion, most of this wealth was looted and dispersed and, if the soldiers did not burn the monastery, it is, it seems, because it resembled the buildings of the new Siamese capital.
Today, more than 2,000 small Buddha statues are housed in small niches, dug in the inner enclosure wall of the vat.
Originally, the frescoes on the walls represented the epic story of Kalaket and his magic horse. As you walk through the courtyard, you will notice a shelter enclosed by metal bars, where very damaged and often decapitated Buddha statues are piled up: these are pieces that had to be cast to make weapons during the Lao-Siamese conflict of 1828.
Inside the sim, we find the tiny Buddha crypts. The sim is beautifully decorated with wall paintings that represent the history of Pookkharabat with its magic fan (the story begins behind the altar). Its wooden coffered ceiling is very strange and if it reminds you of your last visit to Versailles, it is not by chance.
Indeed, at the time of Louis XIV, Siam had an important delegation in France which, without a doubt, was influenced by the architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries in France. The pendants represent lotus flowers. The stone statue of the Buddha on the altar dates from the 13th century. Behind the sim, a long wooden naga is stored which is only used to pour lustral water (water the Buddhas) on the Buddha statues during the Pi May Lao (Lao New Year) festival. Vat Sisaket is certainly worth a visit.
The Vat Sisaket in Vientiane...
Inside the pagoda, the walls are decorated with superb polychrome frescoes depicting scenes from the Master's life.
The ochre and dark red colors, the green of the plants, the very old side of the masonry marked by the years, the original frame... this set gives to this temple an indescribable charm that I have rarely seen or felt elsewhere.
Located at the extreme limit and even outside the Vat Sisakhet, the library, in Burmese style, contained manuscripts of inestimable value, destroyed during the city sacking
This small building has the particularity of being "straddling" the boundary of the enclosure. One half is inside, the other half... outside