Golden Leaves Illuminated by a Sacred Flame

Thailand’s traditions and culture constitute a national heritage, bounteous and beautiful, that has flourished on the adamantine foundation of impeccable craftsmanship and a sumptuous aesthetic glossary for thousands of years.

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In 1847, the first wak waen tien or candle-lighting ceremony cast flickering shadows upon the facade of the newly-erected royal temple (Wat Suthat), which was completed in the reign of King Rama III of the Rattanakosin era. Since then, the ceremony has been woven into the warp and weft of Thai Buddhist customs, but is set apart by a distinctive accessory: waen tien, a candle holder, mostly made of silver, gold or pinchbeck (a copper alloy), which makes it easier for worshippers to hold their ceremonial candle for the duration of a ceremony. Typically, the holder is flat with rounded sides that taper to a point, mimicking the shape of the Bodhi tree leaf.

Candles are a sacred object in religious and cultural traditions throughout the world. Though many of the rituals of organized religion are performed in clandestine settings, with only religious and political authorities in attendance, in the case of wak waen tien, the annual celebrations at Wat Suthat were opened to the Thai public. In the ceremony, participants make a scooping motion towards the body, called “wak” or “kwak”, with the candle three times, and then brushes the smoke away from the Buddha image once– not to be confused with a similar-sounding Buddhist ritual, wien tien, in which devotees circumambulate a sacred object or sacred grounds counterclockwise three times while holding three incense sticks, a lotus flower and a candle.


This beautiful, Bodhi leaf-shaped candle holder is a consummate work of art used by members of the upper class in religious ceremonies. Its delicate and exquisite details– the epitome of the high caliber of Thai craftsmanship– amply rewards the careful attention of any viewer.


Lot 694
Three gilded bronze Bodhi leaf-shaped candle holders, each decorated in relief with a geometric motif and precious objects design(is a consummate work of art used by members of the upper class in religious ceremonies)
Style: Thai, Rattanakosin
Dimensions: W 9.5 cm L 26 cm
Circa: 20th Century
Estimated Price: 7,000 - 9,000 THB
Starting Price: 6,000 THB