The 16th-century Wat Visun and neighboring Wat Aham play a central role in Lao New Year celebrations, when ancestral masks, called phu gneu gna gneu, are taken from Wat Aham and displayed in public. Wat Visun was built in 1503, during the reign of King Visunalat, who had the temple named after himself. Within the compound is a large and unusual watermelon-shape stupa called That Makmo (literally Watermelon Stupa). The 100-foot-high mound is actually
a royal tomb, where many small precious Buddha statues were found when Chin Haw marauders destroyed the city in the late 19th century (these statues have since been moved to the Royal Palace). The temple hall was rebuilt in 1898 along the lines of the original wooden structure, and now houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues, stone inscriptions, and other Buddhist art.
Visunalat Rd., Luang Prabang, Laos