From the past to the present, Luang Pho Sila is a sacred Buddha statue which is venerated by the residents of Muang Thungsaliem in Sukhothai province. It has a long, mysterious history.
This Buddha statue in meditation posture is made of stone. Sitting flat on a triple base, it is made in the shape of a seven-headed great serpent encircled over the statue and carved out of the gray sandstone after the Lopburi art by the Lopburi craftsmen. It is assumed that the statue is over 800 years old and was discovered in 1929 by villagers who gathered the bat excrements from the Chao Ram cave. In the same year, the statue was transferred to Wat Thungsaliem temple.In 1986, it was stolen. Fortunately, it was found in the America. The statue was sold in auction at Sotheby's London in 1988, as part of a nine-item sale of "Khmer, Thai, Indian and Himalayan Art". The sale price was 80,000 pounds.
It was understood that the owner of the statue felt that he had purchased the property in good faith and he had acquired legitimate title. The Thai government investigated the matter in 1996 and agreed to pay $200,000 to return Luang Pra Sila back to Thailand.
At that time, it was a Golden Jubilee celebration, the 50th year anniversary of the reign of His Majesty the King of Thailand. After 19 years, Luang Pho Sila was finally returned to Thailand safely.
After it was first discovered in a cave that was inhabited by millions of bats, the villagers and Luang Pho Sila deveoped a long and intimate relationship that lasted for many centuries. For Thai people, beliefs and ceremonies are difficult to separate and are based on local old traditions. Strangely, though bats hunt for food at night and sleep in the cave during daytime, flocks of bats flew to the airport on the day that the statue arrived in Thailand. And equally strange and rather thrilling, they flew to many important ceremonies which involved the statue.
The following is the sketch of a mural painting created by Kriengkrai Muangmool who I previously interviewed. The song accompanying the sketch is "Blue Day" (guitar version) which was originally composed by His Majesty the King of Thailand.