Friday, March 9, 2007

Architecture, Painting, Sculpture and Crafts

Thai art had its beginnings largely in religion and mythology. The best standing tribute to the most Thai art forms is the "Wat", or temple, which displays all at once the fabulous architecture, painting, sculpture and craft work of the Thai people. During the Ayutthaya period, classical Thai architecture reached its zenith, and today there are many existing examples of reconstructions of this period, the most prominent being the Grand Place. Its design was to be in keeping with the original Royal Place in Ayutthaya, where the temple ruins of the once magnificent kingdom still stand. In every city, magnificent temoles still show age old designs, surely intriguing every visitor.
Sukhothai's claim to artistic fame before the coming of Ayutthays was their bronze Buddha images, which were some of the first complete three-dimentional Buddha sculptures ever done. The sculptures can be found in temples all over the kingdom.
From the cave paintings of the ancient Thais to the later works influenced by China and the West, wall painting is one of the oldest and longest continued Thai art forms. Covering both religious and mythical tales, there are as many murals as temple in Thailand. Another long-standing temple-based craft has been the incredible lacquer work and pearl inlay, with examples existing in numerous Wats, from work on ancient pottery, to the window panels.
Thai Entertainment
Thai Theatre "Li-Kay"
Thai Theatre "Khon"
Music "Sor Sam Sai" a part of Thai Orchestra
Dance "Ram"
Classical Music and Shows
Like classical Thai art, classical Thai dance and performances were largely based on the portrayal of ancient myths and religious stories.
"Khon", the classical Thai performance play, animates Thai mythological stories with a series of dances, with characters wearing intricate masks displaying different emotions or characteristics. Once only shown to the Royal Court, the show is now available for all Thais and visitors to the Kingdom.
Other live traditional shows include two that originated in the South of Thailand; Nang Yai and Nang Talung, a shadow show done with puppets behind a back-lit white screen, and "Likae", a pantomime with a narrative prelude.
Traditional Thai music is unique for its sound, but also for the absence of written music. The only way to learn it is from the masters, making it a rare art form. Most of the instructions are indigenous to Thailand giving visitors a truly new listening experience. Natural Healing
Natural healing through edible roots and other food products has been practiced in Thailand down through the ages, largely adopted from India and China over 2500 years ago. Rather than separate the body and mind, as is common of Western medicine, Thai traditonal healing takes a more holistic approach.
In addition to the modified diet, the body should be relaxed phyically through Traditional Thai massage, which is practiced widely today and has carried over into modern spa treatments. Once the body is relaxed, the mind must then also be cleansed to complete the cycle. This is done through meditation, which relates to Buddhism, the major foundation of Thai thought. Through meditation the practitioner seeks some degree of detachment from the material world, keeping in touch with a greater source of peace within. This helps reduce daily stress and ideally results in overall improved health and quality of life. Holidays
With a wide variety of cultures both affecting Thai history and the present, it is no surprise that celebrations in Thailand are wide and varied. From water festivals like the joyous water fighting Songkran and the serene river-thanking Loy Krathong, to the Royal Barge Procession, both religious and seasonal events are marked with celebration. Different religious and ethnic groups have their own special occasions, which means there is always some reason to celebrate in Thailand.
The Thai landscape has played a large role in shaping Thai culture, especially its largely lowland geography, which has made Thai people reliant on the sea and extensive inland waterways. Settlement in Thailand has always followed the river, as it offered transportation and a link to other communities as well as food. The waterways today may not be as important as in the past, but visitors still have a chance to experience life on the river, through variousBoat Trips. Ethnic Diversity
Thai rulers throughout the ages have encouraged all groups residing in Thailand to live in harmony, from the Chakri dynasty where the concept of lawful, fair rule was first inroduced, until the present century, when hilltribe people were granted Thai citizenship and freedom of religion and culture.
The hilltribe groups are not only culturally different from the rest of Thailand, but also from each other, although they fit into two main categories. Five of the tribes have long histories in Thailand and live below 1000 meters in valleys or hills in permanent settlements, growing rice. The second group are newer to Thailand, only arriving this century, and live more nomadic lifestyles.
Closer to modern life than these hilltribes, but still living a unique existence within the Kingdom are various groups, with Vietnamese, Lao, and more ancient cultural influences. In Thailand, the past does truly exist in the present beyond just the preserved art and temples. For some groups' daily lifestyle has changed little for hundreds of years. Animals in Thai Life
Animals have always been an essential part of Thai life, and accordingly play roles from a humble servant to a national symbol.
From the large labouring elephant and buffalo of the north, to the agile, coconut-harvesting monkey in the south, animals have certainly done their path in the development of Thai agriculture.
Domesticated animals have provided Thais centuries of loyal companionship, from doves and bantams ( a pet rooster ) to indigenous Thai dogs and the world-famous Siamese cat.