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The main purpose of Thai paintings is the representation of religious and mythological scenes, and they most commonly take the form of wall paintings in monastic buildings. In a bot or wiharn a picture of the Buddha’s victory over the tempter, Mara, usually fills the wall facing the image. Behind the image are usually compositions […]

Thai literature begins with an inscription on stone in the name of King Rama Khamheng dated to 1283. With its legal provisions and its historical references, this inscription is our main source of knowledge of Thailand in that period. It also tells us that Rama Khamheng, if not actually the creator of Thai literature, at […]

For long the traditional function of Thai music was mainly to accompany the sung texts of the classical dance-drama. The melody was therefore subsidiary to the text. Only in this century, under western influence, have words for particular melodies (lakorn dok-dambon) been written. Particular groups of melodies are assigned to the various moods and activities […]

These two forms of artistic expression have to be considered together in Thailand. The theatre is conceived and enjoyed as an art which combines gesture and movement with spectacle. In this sense it is not very different from what is called “total theatre”, combining dancing and singing, both involving music and the spoken word, and […]

The earliest works of art produced on the soil of present day Thailand date from the period of the Kingdom of Dvaravati (6th – 11th century), whose main centres lay within a 100 mile radius of Bangkok, the capital being probably Nakhon Pathom. The Thais had not yet settled in the country, then occupied by […]

The heir of Dvaravati culture in southern Thailand, as far as the present day town of Hua Hin, was the empire of Srivijaya, which ruled large parts of Malaya from the 8th to the 13th century. Here Mahayana Buddhism played a predominant role. The art of Srivijaya is eclectic, reflecting its relations with the Mon […]

Between about 1000 and 1250 the whole of central Siam was under the rule of the Khmers. It was the period of the greatest glory of the Cambodian Kingdom, the age of Angkor. Khmer art had a different basis from that of the Mons in Dvaravati. In Angkor Hinduism prevailed at first, and later Mahayana […]

In the first half of the 13th century two Thai princes in Sawankhalok and Sukhothai, outposts of the Khmer empire, succeeded in shaking off the Khmer yoke. The son of one of them, King Rama Khamheng, soon extended his rule over almost the whole of Thailand except for the northern provinces. The Theravada form of […]

In addition to Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, there existed in North Thailand from the end of the 13th to the middle of the 16th century the independent Kingdom of Lan Na. We know nothing of the early history of the country, but it is certain that the Thais had already reigned for some generations in Chiang […]

In 1350 a prince of U-Thong founded the city of Ayutthaya. The new Kingdom rapidly developed into the most powerful and the wealthiest state in South-East Asia. About 1430 its army, after repeated raids into the Khmer Kingdom, destroyed the city of Angkor. A few years later Sukhothai, which had long been subject to it, […]

After the destruction of Ayutthaya, King Taksin founded his new capital of Dhonburi on the right bank of the Menam. In 1782 Rama I transferred the seat of government to the other bank of the river; the modern Bangkok. The new city was meant to reproduce as far as possible the briliance of Ayutthuya. Splendid […]

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