It’s the sort of environment that could hold my attention for hours. In a heavily carved and gilded structure that’s tucked away on the grounds of the Wat Xieng Thong temple complex in Luang Prabang, Laos, are stored a fleet of Buddha statues, crackling wooden devotional panels, nagas, and the Lao king’s cremation chariot. Adorned with cobwebs and dressed in dust, they seem to be waiting in the wings for a regal parade.
I entered this spiritual hibernation spot during the golden hour, following a stroll along the Mekong River. And I wondered — as I often do with antiques — how many centuries old are the figures? How many monks had carefully placed them there? And, if the statues could speak, what stories would they tell?
Wat Xieng Thong is one of Laos’ most important temples and is believed to have been built in 1560. Wat means ‘temple,’ and xieng thong means ‘golden city.’ In the past, Laotian kings were crowned at this Temple of the Golden City.
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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.