Art Around The World: Thailand


D. Khan

Thai Art Is Simply Amazing

D. Khan, Arts Section Editor


Hello Gators, and welcome back to your guide to art around the world! Most students’ knowledge of art history is primarily eurocentric–Michelangelo and Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet. This feature shares the traditional styles and modern artists of countries all around the world to broaden your horizons. This week, we’re traveling to Southeast Asia to see Thailand’s unique murals and sculpture styles. 

Thailand’s murals are an art form entirely their own. The masterpieces tell history from the Ramakien, traditional stories about Buddha’s ten lives leading to Enlightenment. They’ve been painted primarily in temples, but many have worn down due to time. These murals do not use perspective or shadow-like most artists do today–instead, they focus on flat, warm colors and intricate details. The larger a character is, the more important it is to the story. A viewer could get lost in the carefully drawn lines, and those that are preserved are a perfect look into a classic story. You can look at some of these murals here and here, and read more about the history at this site.  

While most middle schoolers could tell you the basics about the Renaissance or similar art periods, Thailand had its own era’s. One of the best known is the Sukhothai period. This period, named for the kingdom it originated from, is best known for its Buddha statues. The slim face, closed eyes, and at-calm pose is still considered the most popular and accurate depiction of Buddha. According to Britannica, the smooth body shape of these statues are inspired by various animals of cultural importance–for example, the lion-like broad shoulders and a beak-style nose. While Buddhism originated near India, the standing Buddha is an entirely Thai concept. You can read more about this time period here. 

Some modern Thai artists have taken their culture and combined it with the newer ideas of art. 

Phannapast Taychamaythakool is a fashion designer and illustrator who combines folklore with bright, vibrant colors in her clothes and creations. Since being discovered by Gucci, she’s been highly successful in the fashion industry and is the creative director of Thai brand Kloset. You can see her work on her Instagram page, @phannapast. Jakkai Siributr is another popular name in textiles. He uses fabrics and embroidery to show Thai issues and social politics, along with the contrast between Buddhism, a very minimalist religion, and modern life, where everything is about what you own. You can watch a short interview with him here.

With this past and present, it’s no surprise that Thailand is considered one of the most culturally rich countries in the world. Its strong history and incredibly talented modern artists give South Asia a strong voice in the art world, to the point where ancient styles are still making waves today. That’s a wrap on this week’s Art Around the World–until the next feature!