Mural Paintings and Sculpture are two foremost forms of Thai visual arts.
The masterpiece of Thai fine arts are a significant factor in Thai history, showcasing vividly the lifestyle of Thais.
Mural paintings are usually found on the interior walls of temples' assembly (viharn) and ordination halls (bot). Some temples have the paintings on their galleries. Paintings of various temples may have subtle differences, but all of them compulsorily relate to Buddhism.
The paintings are divided into two sections - upper and lower. The upper section paintings depict a congregation of the celestials, while the lower section showcases either the Jataka tales or the incidents in the life of Lord Buddha. Some murals contain scenes from daily life, animals, birds, plans and local myths.
The murals, on wooden partitions and plastered masonry, illustrate in consummate skill and full detail both sacred and nasty scenes. The paintings are known for elegant execution, subdued tones, sophistication and charm. The mastery of the painters seems stunning even after hundreds of years of their coming into existence.
Where To Visit
» Wat Suwannaram, Wat Suthat and Wat Thong Thammachart in Thonburi, Bangkok
» Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok
» Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai
» Wat Phumin in Nan province
» Wat Thung Sri Muang in Ubon Ratchathani province
» Wat Huai Toei in Pak Phayun district, Pattani province
The great masters of Thai sculpture have produced exquisite work of immense artistic value. Concentrating mainly on Buddha images, the sculptors have skillfully blended profound religious notes with refined art.
Interestingly, the objective of the sculptors was religious, not artistic. Most of the work deals with Buddha images, and the rest is associated with Buddhism at least. However, fine sculptures of Hindu gods are also discovered, belonging to the period of 3rd to 5th century AD. The country came under the influence of Buddhism after this period.
The classic images exude inner peace and serenity. The sculptors aimed to present Buddha as a supernatural entity, following a set of 32 rules, originally devised in ancient India. The images have long limbs with no evidence of bone or muscle. The art reached it's zenith during the Sukhothai period. Graceful simple forms, sheen of metal and perfect smoothness are some peculiarities of this period.
The Hindu sculptures of the pre-Buddha period convey a sense of dynamism and power in sharp contrast to the serene Buddha images.
Postures and Mudras
The Buddha idols are always in specific postures (asanas) showcasing attitudes (mudras) representing Buddhist outlook of life. Sitting, standing, walking and reclining are four basic postures. The first three are connected to Buddha's life, while the last symbolises Buddha's achievement of nirvana.
Around 40 'mudras' are illustrated by the idols, but a dozen are more common. 'Bhumisparsa' or 'touching the earth' attitude is the one most followed.
On the basis of artistic style and the time of their making, the Thai sculpture heritage can be segregated under following headings.
» Mon Dvaravati
» U Thong
» Early Hindu
» Srivijaya and Peninsular
Where to Visit
The best place to find the specimen of Thai sculpture are the temples, which are scattered all over the country. Idols can also be found in museums.