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Mon Dvaravati Art In Thailand

  • Dvaravati art refers to the art style that dominated in Thailand during 7th to 11th centuries before the arrival of the Khmers and later the Tai.
  • Dvaravati also refers to the Mon communities that ruled what is now Thailand.
  • Nakhon Pathom, Khu Bua and U Thong in Central Thailand are important sites for Dvaravati art and architecture. The art objects are of Hinayana Buddhist, Mahayana Buddhist and Hindu religious subjects. Objects are stone sculpture, stucco, terracotta and bronze.
  • The style is influenced from India, Amaravati (South India) and Gupta and post-Gupta prototypes (4th to 8th centuries in India) but have local elements to reflect Southeast Asian facial features. The distinctive Dvaravati sculpture is that of the Wheel of Law found throughout the Dvaravati Kingdom. These symbols of the Buddha's first sermon were erected on high pillars and placed in temple compounds. Today good examples can be seen at the National Museum Bangkok.

  • This period marked the beginning of the various art styles. In India Buddhist clerics introduced 32 features to be included in any representation of the Buddha so that all his images should not be confused with those of ordinary people but be instantly recognizable as the Buddha. He is portrayed as superior to ordinary men with profound spiritual purity conquering physical desire by the mind and showing the aura of inner peace.
  • In contrast the crafting of images of the Hindu Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who were super humans radiating power required different images. They were accorded kingly status, crowned and adorned with jewels and given strong and beautiful faces.
  • These Gods showed strength, radiated power and masculine vigor. The consorts to these Gods were the embodiment of feminine grace and sweetness. In these times art had to capture the intangible, invisible gods and translate their themes into figures of stone or bronze. In doing so they were guided by rules devised in India.

The Best Location Places To See Mon Dvaravati Art In Thailand

  • The best location places to see Dvaravati art are The National Museum Bangkok, the James Thompson Museum in Bangkok and the National Museum U Tong.
  • Mon Dvaravati art has been found as far south as Yalang ancient city in Pattani,as far north as in Srithep in Petchabun, and as far east as Fa Dad Sung Yang in Kalasin and Sema in Nakhon Rachasima.
  • There are three forms, sculpture for decorating holy places, architecture and utensils. Early art had Indian faces but later became more indigenous looking. The sculptures for decorating holy places were made of stucco, baked and raw clay. Paintings were also popular and were of people, dwarfs and animals, particularly, lions. Samples of these works are on display at all regional Thailand National Museums.