The Roofs on Temples in Luang Prabang: A Symbol of Beauty and Belief

15 Oct , 2023  

The temples of Luang Prabang are renowned for their elegant and ornate architecture. One of the most striking features of these temples is their roofs, which are often multi-tiered and decorated with intricate carvings and symbolism.

The roofs on temples in Luang Prabang are not just decorative. They also play an important symbolic role. The different tiers of the roof represent the different levels of Buddhist enlightenment, while the elaborate carvings often depict scenes from the Buddha’s life or from Buddhist mythology.

One of the most common motifs found on the roofs of Lao temples is the Naga, a mythical serpent that is believed to protect Buddhism. Naga heads are often carved into the ends of the roof beams and eaves, and they are also sometimes featured in the central spire.

Wat Haw Pha Bang

Another common motif is the Dok so faa, a decorative element that typically consists of a number of miniature pagodas topped by multi-tiered parasols. The Dok so faa is believed to represent the sacred Mount Meru, which is the abode of the gods in Buddhist cosmology.

Wat Phathat Si Khottabong (ວັດພະທາດສີໂຄດຕະບອງ)

The roofs of the temples in Luang Prabang are notable for their use of colour. The most common colours are gold and red, which are both considered to be auspicious in Lao culture. Gold represents the purity and wisdom of the Buddha, while red represents strength and vitality.

A few of the most notable temples in Luang Prabang with beautiful roofs:

  • Wat Mai: This temple was built in the 19th century and is known for its five-story roof, which is one of the tallest and most elaborate in Luang Prabang.
  • Wat Phon Phao: This temple is located on a hill overlooking the city and is known for its golden roof and octagonal shape. I recently posted pictures of the inside of this temple.
  • Wat Haw Pha Bang: This temple is the most sacred in Luang Prabang and is home to the Phra Bang, the country’s most revered Buddha image. The roof of the temple is decorated with intricate carvings and a golden spire.
  • Wat Choumkhong: This temple is known for its unique roof, which is straight and tilted at a sharp angle.

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