Thai Antiques ...
Our Nation's Heritage
(Pictures courtesy of Iyara Art)
JUST HEARING THE WORD "antique" conjures up mental images of an array of ancient artifacts created by craftsmen of old, and each with a story to tell, each carrying its own mysterious aura. Antique collectors are driven to make their collections not just as a hobby but because of the insights into past civilizations that can be gleaned from each piece. There are many different types of antiques which can be broadly grouped by their use or the materials used on their construction. These groups include furniture, pottery and porcelain, glass, pewter, copper, brass, bronze, silver, clocks and sculpture, and many can be further subdivided by the particular historic period or civilization that they represent. Thai antiques are generally grouped into 8 distinct historic categories.
The Dvaravati period, from the 7th to the 11th centuries AD, is the first recorded civilization in Thailand. Most antiques dating from this period were made for religious purposes, with the majority created for Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism and lesser numbers for Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism. Most pieces that exist from those distant days are Buddha images. It is speculated that the Dvaravati Kingdom was based in Central Thailand, with its ancient capital near modern-day Nakhon Pathom. This was a Khmer-influenced society, and most of the population were ethnic Mon, with some stone inscriptions in their language dating from that period. The ancient Haripoonchai principality, where Lamphun now stands, was a distant satellite of the late Dvaravati period.
The powerful Srivijaya empire, that stretched through much of Malaysia and Indonesia from the 8th to the 13th centuries AD, strongly influenced southern Thailand of that time. The empire's capital was thought to have been near Palembang on the island of Sumatra, and there was a strong trade link from Takua Pa on the Andaman Sea coast, through to Chaiya in Surat Thani, which became a bustling provincial capital of the time. Now a sleepy village better known for its salted duck eggs, its weavers and its proximity to the forest temple called Suan Mok, Chaiya is rich in Srivijaya antiquities many of which can be seen at the branch of the National Museum there.
The Lopburi period, stretching from the 7th to the 14th centuries AD, refers to 2 distinctly different artistic styles which are nonetheless grouped together for convenience. Early Lopburi art, up until the early 13th century, was strongly influenced by the Khmer style, but was in no way similar to the Dvaravati art of the same antiquity. The rise of the influence of the Thai people caused a strong shift in style during the late Lopburi period. Lopburi period antiques also include the genuine Khmer objects and monuments that have been found on present day soil.
The antiquities of northern Thailand are rather loosely assembled under the Chiang Saen era, from the 11th to the 18th centuries AD. There are 2 divergent phases. The first of these is subject to debate, as little in the way of written documentation exists, but the principal pieces of this time are bronze Buddha statues profoundly influenced by the northeast Indian Pala style, which may have come to the Lanna Kingdoms through Pagan in Burma or from Buddhist sites in Orissa on India's east coast. Later Chiang Saen art is far easier to date, as the style dramatically changes to incorporate a predominantly Sukhothai form in the 14th century. This was accompanied by an enormous increase in dated inscriptions and chronicles allowing accurate referencing.
Probably the most exquisite of all Thai art was produced during the Sukhothai period during the 13th and 14th centuries AD. It had a profound influence on subsequent artistic styles. The Buddha images of the Sukhothai period are considered some of the most remarkable sculptures in the world, combining the serene smiling expression, the flowing line of the body and the graceful bearing, especially of the walking Buddha.
See an enticing array of fascinating antiques and Asian arts at the following recommended shops: ARTS & CRAFTS, BAN CHANG COME ANTIQUES, BAN PHOR LIANG MUEN, IYARA ART, LIVING SPACE, STYLE CONNECTION, TARIN HOME DECOR, AND TITA GALLERY