Research Report

Research Report 4: Wat Luang Muang Lue

Buddhist Revival and Transformation in Sipsong Panna

Following the repression of religious traditions during the Mao era political movements in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the subsequent restoration of religious freedom at the beginning of the 1980s, for the last 30 years Theravada Buddhism among the Tai Lue people in Sipsong Panna has experienced a strong recovery. During this time, Wat Pajie has acted as the main religious institution in the area, leading the reconstruction of the local Sangha under the new PRC religious policy framework, and acting as the seat of the highest religious authority in Sipsong Panna, plus the main Buddhist educational institution in the region. In the spring of 2008, the Buddhist school at Wat Pajie moved to a new complex at Wat Luang Muang Lue. As well as hosting a larger school, one able to lodge hundreds of students, this new temple, mainly funded by a property development company from Liaoning in northern China, was expected to become one of the main tourist attractions in the region, acting as a ‘Theravada Buddhist Cultural Center’. However, since souvenir shops and other businesses run by commercial companies have opened inside the Temple, the new temple-school has become subject to a new kind of economic and representational relations, one which is already raising serious questions concerning the level of involvement of the local Sangha in the project.

Publication date : January 2011
Price : 180 Baht / 0 US$