The Statue of King Setthathirat, Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos
Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as an Indic temple in the 3rd century. Buddhist missionaries from the Mauryan Empire are believed to have been sent by the Emperor Ashoka, including Bury Chan or Praya Chanthabury Pasithisak and five Arahata monks who brought a holy relic (believed to be the breast bone) of Lord Buddha to the stupa.
It was rebuilt in the 13th century as a Khmer temple which fell into ruin. In the mid-16th century, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered construction of Pha That Luang in 1566. It was rebuilt about 4 km from the centre of Vientiane at the end of That Luang Road and named Pha That Luang. The bases had a length of 69 metres each and was 45 metres high, and was surrounded by 30 small Stupas.
In 1641, a Dutch envoy of the Dutch East India Company, Gerrit van Wuysoff, visited Vientiane and was received by King Sourigna Vongsa at the temple, where he was, reportedly, received in a magnificent ceremony. He wrote that he was particularly impressed by the "enormous pyramid and the top was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds". However, the stupa was repeatedly plundered by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese. Pha That Luang was destroyed by the Thai invasion in 1828, which left it heavily damaged and left abandoned.
It was not until 1900, when the French restored to its original design based on the detailed drawings from 1867 by the French architect and explorer Louis Delaporte. However the first attempt to restore it was unsuccessful and it had to be redesigned and then reconstructed in the 1930s.
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Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, a darling little gem floating around in space.
Hm, what is Asia? Who's in on it?
China and India are safe bets for Asian nations. Korea, Japan, Thailand, you're fine.
Europe? No. Europe would sort of be on the "Asian continent" if not for those pesky Ural mountains dividing things up in the middle, and then also the whole lineage of kings and wealth and nations and the EU and all that "give me my respect" stuff.
Russia would probably be happiest as its own continent, so for now we'll leave it in "Eurasia" and just hope the natural gas supplies keep flowing.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are dang close to Asia, but politically they show up in "Middle East" news stories an awful lot. Verdict: Eurasia.
I guess we'll actually have to consider everything from Turkey on eastward to be "Eurasian", although the moniker seems overlappitory of the territory.
The Asian economy is now officially raging like a wild furnace of lava that consumes everything in its path. Japan has had the largest individual economy in Asia for decades, but it is forecast that both India and China will outstrip Japan within twenty years.
China is the largest holder of United States debt and is positioned to become the world's next superpower, provided that Godzilla doesn't return and decide to stomp everybody back into the Shang Dynasty.
Text by Steve Smith.