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Notes on the Geography of Thailand: Bangkok: Photo 3

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The name wat comes from a Sanskrit word for a "dwelling for pupils;" po, from Sanskrit bodhi, "enlightenment." The multiple gables indicate high rank. The distinctive chofa finial represents the head of Garuda, the half-man and half-eagle who is the mount of Vishnu and associated with the Thai monarch.  Garuda's wings are represented by the end boards of the gables.  The hang hong ("swan tail") finials rising lower on the gables represent the heads of serpents, nagas, seized by Garuda; the comb-like teeth of the end boards (bai raka) represent naga scales. In short, the king seizes his enemies.

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