Development of Contemporary Art in Thailand
In the early Ratanakosin period, starting in 1782 CE, Thai artisans were inspired by Buddhist beliefs and literature to create their art. This is evident in mural paintings in Buddhist ordination halls, ancient scriptures, images and statues of Buddha and fine-art items in temples, as well as in Thai architecture.
Thai art from the reign of King Rama I until King Rama III (1782–1851) of the Chakri dynasty did not change much from the previous Ayudhya period. The modification and evolution of Thai art came later. Traditional Thai art was carried on from generation to generation, mostly through apprenticeships; each master passing on his knowledge and artistic skills to his apprentices. There was no art school in Thailand in the past. Those who wished to study art had to seek an apprenticeship with famous masters who passed on their skills only to their most promising students.
After Thailand became Siam, and started to have more contact with foreigners, new ideas and knowledge in various fields pervaded the kingdom. In the reign of King Rama III (1824–1851), Siam started trading with China. This trade expanded to European countries during the reigns of King Rama IV to Rama VI (1851–1925). From this contact with the West many new beliefs and ideas originated, as well as national developments and changes in art and culture. It is fortunate for Thailand that the kings during these transitional periods wisely chose to adapt Western ideas and beliefs selectively and carefully, including only those that could be integrated into Thai heritage without overshadowing the Thai roots of our art and culture.
KeywordsGold Medal Mural Painting Thai People Silver Medal Thai Society
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