The Arts of Thailand
Steve Van Beek
Blending a multiplicity of cultural influences with their own artistic genius, the Thai people have created some of the world's finest art. In this definitive introduction to Thai art, author Steve Van Beek takes a wide-ranging look at how these diverse forces were fused into a wealth of art forms which are uniquely Thai. As a means to a fuller understanding of Thai culture, he explores the symbolism of architecture, sculptures, and painting. The Arts of Thailand also covers contemporary art and the minor arts.
The text by Steve Van Beek, a 30 year resident of Asia with a special interest in art, is based on exhaustive research in museums, libraries, architectural sites and Thai temples, as well as interviews with collectors and art historians.
and smooth, lacking decoration of any sort. The neck is natural-looking and often displays an Adam's apple. No images of Brahma have been found and Siva images are only slightly less rare. Depictions of Siva are confined to faces carved on linga, a symbol of potency in Brahmanic iconography. Almost all Hindu images are carved from stone. Bronze was reserved for Buddhist figures. The Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara was the most popular Buddhist subject among peninsular sculptors during Thailand's
clad their monuments with a wealth of beautifully executed stucco reliefs that display a vivid imagination and a willingness to experiment with new forms and subjects. The best known are the Descent of the Buddha from the T avatimsa Heaven which decorate huge niches at Wat Tuk, and the most famous is at Wat Trapang Tong Lang. Other superb examples of stucco artistry are the Buddhas meditating during a flood, lifted above the rising waters by the coils of a naga and protected from the rain by his
Chedi Si Liem, built in Wiang Kungam i11 the year 1300, is a replica of that at Wat Chamatewi. Haripunchai sculpture throughout its history: large hair curls which end in points and which are proportionally the largest of any period of Thai art, wide nose, thick lips and the Dvaravati triple-curve eyebrows rendered as a ridge. As the centuries passed, the features became more stylized and the quality declined. Haripunchai sculptors preferred standing to seated Buddha images and most often chose
Thailand, although this influence appears in only a few surviving pieces and is thus not widely recognized. Such features as almond-shaped eyes and smiling mouth also reflect this Khmer influence. During the 13th and 14th centuries AD , there occurred significant artistic interaction between Lanna and Sukhothai, although the exact nature of this interaction has yet to be studied. Sukhothai influence began to make itself felt in Lanna art when the monk Mahathera Sumana arrived at Lamphun in 1369
transferred from Thon Buri to Bangkok was the Emerald Buddha, which Rama I had captured from the King of Vientiane. He then set to work encouraging sculptors to create new works. Typical is the Gandharattha Buddha now kept in the Grand Palace and taken out only for the Plowing Ceremony and Songkran . It / rests in the virasana position with the right hand in the "Calling Down the Rain" mudra and the left hand in the "Catching the Rain" mudra. Despite its grand inspiration, it is a somewhat