with all regions of Thailand, the South features sculptural styles
from all eras and kingdoms, to some degree. Nonetheless, the southern
peninsula’s relative isolation from the north of the country, and
its proximity to maritime trade routes and the Indonesian archipelago
have lent the region a number of distinctive artistic styles.
In the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, Thailand served
as a gateway for Indian trade with the Khmers and civilizations further
north. Prosperous centers of trade developed in the southern peninsula,
as evidenced by the discovery of fine sculptures of Hindu Gods at
Takua Pa in Phangnga, Chaiya in Surat Thani, and even farther north
at Dong Si Maha Phot in Prachinburi and Si Thep in Petchabun.
of the various Hindu Gods have been discovered, but particularly
Shiva, represented in the form of a phallus, Vishnu, the ‘Preserver
of the Universe’, and his avatar Krishna. The sculptures convey
a sense of dynamism and power in stark contrast to the static, serene
images of the Buddha, produced later.
and Peninsular Art
Sailendra Dynasty of the Srivijaya Empire centered on the island
of Java, held sway over most of the Indonesian archipelago and the
Malay Peninsula from the late 7th to the end of the 13th
century AD. The empire’s influence is thought to have extended as
far north as the Isthmus of Kra with Chaiya in Surat Thani being
the main city-state of the peninsula.
Sailendra Dynasty practiced Mahayana Buddhism. Sculptural and architectural
relics unearthed at Chaiya and other sites in southern Thailand
indicate that Mahayana Buddhism also predominated in the peninsular
region. Early Srivijayan art shows some Dvaravati features but the
main influence is the Indo-Javanese style. Late Srivijayan art also
shows some Khmer influence.
information on sculpture in other regions see:
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