National Museum, Bangkok, Thailand
high-definition creative commons photographs from the National Museum, Bangkok, Thailand together with further information.
Periods and Styles
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Dwaravati Period (6th - 11th centuries)
Dwaravati was a culture of the historic kingdoms in Thailand. Dwaravati, recognized as the earliest Buddhist culture, developed among the societies in the central part of Thailand and then spread to other parts of the country, i.e., the east, the northeast, the upper south and the lower north, from the sixth to the eleventh century CE (1,000 - 1,500 years ago).
The Dwaravati culture had developed initially from prehistoric and early historic cultures and assimilated aspects of Indian culture. The majority of the Dwaravati sculptures reflect the Theravada Buddhist faith and practice of people. Nevertheless, some religious sculptures that were created previously or contemporaneously, were influenced by Hindu and Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions. During the eleventh to twelfth century, the religious sculptures of the upper north of Thailand continued to exercise their influence on Dwaravati style.
Srivijaya (8th -13th centuries)
Srivijaya was a kingdom that developed into a federation of states, encompassing states on the archipelago of the present-day Indonesia, such as, Sumatra and Java, and on the Thai-Malay Peninsula, such as, Malaysia and Southern Thailand. It flourished between the eighth and thirteenth century CE (800 - 1,300 years ago).
The elements of Srivijayan culture found in the region suggest that Srivijaya was a center of the Mahāyāna Buddhist World considering the philosophical propagation and artistic tradition. Thus, the Srivijayan Buddhist sculptures and architectures found in Thailand are mostly related to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhism. It was particularly popular for Buddhists to produce icons of Bodhisattvas.
Lopburi or Khmer (11-13th centuries)
The term “Lopburi⏑ derives from the town or state’s name “Lavapura⏑ or “Lavapuri⏑ that emerged in Thailand in the seventh century CE. This term refers to a typical style of Hindu and Mahāyāna Buddhist sculptures and architectures found in the central, east and northeast regions of Thailand during the seventh to thirteenth century CE (800 - 1,400 years ago).
There had been long cultural relation and interaction between the ancient states of Thailand and those of Cambodia. The style was comparable with those styles of Khmer sculptures and architectures in Cambodia, therefore, the ‘Ancient Khmer Style of Thailand’ is used as an alternative term for “Lopburi Style⏑. Nevertheless, the artworks of the ancient Cambodia and those of the regions had their own distinctive features.
The Kingdom of Sukhothai (1238 until 1438)
Sukhothai was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai, in north central Thailand, which eventually extended its borders east into Laos, west into modern-day Myanmar and south towards what is now Bangkok.
In terms of culture the Sukhothai was Theravādin in religion, and saw the introduction of the traditions from Sri Lanka. Traditionally this has been regarded as the foundation of the Thai state, as it was no longer subject to other states in the area.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya (also spelled Ayudhya or Ayodhaya) (1351 to 1767)
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was founded south of the centre of the Sukhothai kingdom, and didn’t so much as overthrow the former state as absorb it, including its culture and traditions. Ayutthaya greatly expanded its borders, and was sometimes known as the Ayutthayan Empire. This is also the first time the kingdom was called Siam.
Culturally the Kingdom was Theravādin, but with some admixture of brahminical traditions, which was to continue until the present day. Literature and theatre flourished during this period, as well as architecture and sculpture.
The Rattanakosin Period (1782 - Present)
The Rattanakosin Kingdom at its greatest extent included the vassal states of Cambodia, Laos, the Burmese Shan States, and some of the northerly Malay kingdoms. The kingdom was founded by King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty, which continues to this day, but during the colonial period it was forced back into tighter borders.
Culturally it is a continuation and extension of the cultures that preceded it, and has developed a very distinct style that sets it apart from other cultures in the region, and which is clearly recognisable as having its own standing and basis. The development of all forms of art still continues, painting, sculpture and archtitecture being particularly strong.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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