The Museum of Buddhist Art in Bangkok is respected to have the largest assortment of Buddha statues, sculptures and figurines based on Buddhist art function from kingdoms dating back to the 6th century AD. The shows reflect the cultural history of the different kingdoms in Thailand and neighboring kingdoms too.
Visitors to the Museum of Buddhist Art are advised to begin their tour in an annex to the principal building that houses the Kuan Yin Palace and Museum which shows statues of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. The courtyard outside this museum has six miniature wooden palaces housing Chinese deities.
The key theme of the Museum of Buddhist Art, nonetheless, is housed in 8 room upstairs in the principal building showing Buddha statues, sculptures and figurines within the different kingdoms that had an impact on Thai art and culture.
The numerous universities of Buddhist art of every era combined with all the past and added its distinct touch. Detailed explanations are offered for the Buddha statues, their characteristics, different postures and subtle variations in the folds of the robes.
The museum is a valuable source of knowledge for the scholar of Buddhist art and Buddha sculptures. The everyday tourist, looking an review of a significant aspect of Thai culture, might discover this museum interesting also.
Buddhist art within the many kingdoms displayed in the Museum of Buddhist Art
Dvaravati art (6th – 11th decades AD)
Dvaravati art is based found on the culture of the UK of Dvaravati in Nakhon Phahom, Central Thailand established by the Mon from Burma. The Buddhist art function of the period is based found on the Southern India and Sri Lanka models.
Srivijaya art (7th – 14th centuries)
The Srivijaya kingdom covered Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula and Southern Thailand, right about Surat Thani and Nakhon Sri Thammarat. The art shape from this era had a wealthy blend of Indian, Khmer, Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra cultures.
Khmer art (11th – 19th centuries)
From 6th – 14th centuries, the Khmer Empire in Cambodia ruled over Laos and northeastern Thailand (Isarn). Khmer art was to have an enduring legacy on Buddhist art function for decades to come.
Burmese art (11th – 19th centuries)
Burmese art evolved within the numerous cultural groups in the historic Burmese kingdom of Pagan. The Burmese, Mon, Arakan, Tai-yai kingdoms developed Buddhist art during their respective reigns. All these groups had an influence on Thai art.
Sukhothai art (13th – 15th centuries)
Art flourished in the Sukhothai Kingdom under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng. Classic Sukhothai art shortly appeared within the Khmer influence and established its distinctive fashion.
Ayuthaya art (1350 – 1767)
The displays on Ayuthaya art in the Museum of Buddhist Art represents the greatest period in Thai art. Pre-Ayuthaya art became a mixture of Khmer art of the Bayon period (the Bayon temples in Cambodia) and Dvaravati art, a mixture which was termed as U Thong Art.
The establishment of Ayuthaya produced a blend of Khmer and Sukhothai designs which slowly evolved into its own distinctive character in the 16th century.
Lanna art (13th – 20th centuries)
The Lanna kingdom (Land of the Million Fields) was established by King Mengrai in northern Thailand in 1296. Pure Lanna art developed when the kingdom was independent. Lanna came under Burmese direction and later under Thai guideline. The Buddha statues during these periods had their subtle variations.
Lan Xang art (14th – 18th centuries)
The Lan Xang kingdom (Land of the Million Elephants) was founded by King Fah Ngum in the 14th century after the fall of Sukhothai. The kingdom covered modern Laos and components of northeastern Thailand. King Fah Ngum prepared Buddhism the state religion so started an art shape that additionally left its mark on Buddhist art.
Thonburi art (1767 – 1782)
Thonburi art had a short period as the kingdom lasted for just 15 years.
Rattanakosin art (1782 – present)
What followed was Rattanakosin art of the contemporary Bangkok era. The Buddha statues and sculptures during the reign of the Chakri Kings developed a distinct identity of their own.
The different 8 room in the Museum of Buddhist Art are not straight connected to the central theme but are equally interesting. These cover artifacts within the pre-historic Ban Chiang culture, Yao paintings, stone sculptures.
An unusual set of shows in this museum is the space exhibiting statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, a reflection of the religious tolerance in Buddhist society.
The Museum of Buddhist Art embodies not only the art and culture evolved for over a millennium through the rise and fall of many kingdoms. It symbolizes the strategy of moderation and tolerance, values that serve as a beacon of light in these troubled occasions.