Wat Suwannaram was constructed by Rama I on the foundations of a temple dating from the Ayutthaya era. It was renovated by Rama III and finally completed in 1831. The temple complex provides a graceful example of early Rattanakosin architecture, in which a few traces of the Ayutthaya style still linger. The well-restored murals of the main wihan, some of the best of the early 19th century, are attributed to two renowned painters of the third reign, Luang Vichit Chetsada and Krua Khonpae.
Western perspective had not permeated Thai mural painting at the time: scenes are depicted as aerial views with figures shown at the same size whether they are in the foreground or background. On the side panels are depictions of the last 10 tales of the jataka (the Buddha’s previous lives). On the south wall are the Buddhist cosmological kingdoms, and the entrance wall is dominated by a lively scene of the Buddha’s victory over Mara. Notice the hairstyles of the third reign (1824–51): the heads of both sexes are shaven to leave a small patch of hair at the top. Also, look for a Christian cross on a hermit’s hut, evidence that missionaries were active in Thailand at the time.