Explore the origins of Eastern civilization


The Mahasurasinghanat building has a collection of artefacts dating from prehistoric times to the Srivijaya period. Apichart jinakul

As Thailand welcomes vaccinated tourists from 68 countries, the Bangkok National Museum remains one of the city’s most popular attractions with improved landscapes, amenities and lighting, allowing visitors to experience a new setting and experience. ” observe various 360 degree exposures.

After the facelift of the Prapatphiphitthaphan building, the two-story Mahasurasinghanat building recently reopened to attract those interested in history and the arts, as part of the renovation of Wang Na, aka the Front Palace, which has started in 2012.

This Thai-style two-story building houses five halls and the exhibition is divided into different themes so that visitors can learn about the history, culture and arts of Thailand through a rare collection of artefacts, of jewelry and pottery from prehistoric times to the Srivijaya era.

“The renovation of this building will be completed when the Lopburi Hall opens to the public next month. This is a smooth opening to set the tone for the rest of the program. At the same time, Phra Tamnak Daeng [the Red House] and the Chao Phraya Yommarat Memorial [Kaew Singhaseni] are expected to open soon to showcase Wang Na’s Chinese arts, while the courtyard landscape will also be enhanced, ”curator Suppawan Nongnut said.

The building features a one-way system for a walking tour, and the Asian Arts Hall is designed to resemble a time capsule to take visitors back to the origin of Eastern civilization. At the entrance, a wide array of ancient Buddha statues of different designs show how Greco-Roman influence spread to Persia and India when Alexander the Great occupied parts of Asia.

Connecting West and East, the South Asian region has been the cradle of civilization and visitors can see a series of ancient Buddha heads made between the 1st and 4th centuries in Hadda, Afghanistan , as well as a Buddha statue with a natural bun that resembles Apollo (the Olympian God of Sun and Healing) from Malakand, India.

A seated Buddha statue from Gandhara, Pakistan and a standing Buddha statue in a blessing posture were made in the style of the Gupta Sarnath School from the 5th to the 6th century and transported from Varanasi, India.

A wooden statue adorned with jewelry of the Mandalay Buddha. Photo: Pattarawadee Saengmanee

“The statue of Buddha in a blessing posture is a masterpiece of the Gupta Sarnath school. She wears exquisite Kashi silk and has a swollen head with a spiral bun, long ears and hands, all based on the traits of the great man, ”Suppawan explained.

Inside, a huge map shows the Silk Road network that crossed land and sea from the 2nd to 18th centuries, with cultural exchanges along the ancient trade route. Archaeological evidence indicates that ancient humans lived on this continent and built the Mesopotamian civilization in West Asia, the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia, and the Chinese civilization in East Asia.

The hall is dedicated to a collection of venerable Buddha and Bodhisattva sculptures, mostly from South Korea, Japan, Myanmar, China and India.

Based on the beliefs of the Mahayana, the sculptures of Buddha and Bodhisattva from China, Tibet and Nepal have been crafted in unique designs.

For example, the Chinese-style Yamantaka statue depicts Bodhisattva Manjushri in a violent state, while the Nepalese-style Shakyamuni Buddha sculpture has lapis lazuli colored hair to represent the dark night sky.

Srivijaya style Buddha votive seals. Apichart jinakul

The sculptures of Avalokiteshvara Cintamanicakra Bodhisattva and Avalokiteshvara Bodh were created in the 17th and 19th centuries to celebrate the flourishing of arts and culture during the Edo period, while a wooden Buddha sculpture adorned with Mandalay jewelry showcases first class Burmese craftsmanship. Also on display is an Indian Pala-style golden Buddha statue performing the Eight Great Miracles, made in the 9th century and discovered in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana in 1958.

The Prehistoric Room features a diverse collection of stones, bronze, glass, ceramics, jewelry, hunting gear, and farming equipment that exemplify ancient invention and technology.

“Learning to regulate fire has been an important factor in helping humanity move forward. Lighting the fire was key to developing a relationship. Humans designed a language to communicate after gathering and eating around. a campfire, hunting and farming, ”Suppawan said.

“Instead of using wood and stone, they learned to use bronze, copper and tin to make stronger tools and weapons. This idea resulted in the building of cities and bronze is become a popular jewelry material. “

Pottery and pearl jewelry from prehistoric times. Apichart jinakul

Arrowheads, spearheads and javelins created around 1,500 to 2,300 years ago are also lined up in a corner of iron tools unearthed at the archaeological site of Ban Don Ta Phet, the ancient city of Sab Champa and the archaeological site of Ban Chieng. Next door is a fashion boutique which offers a diverse range of antique jewelry from the National Museum’s private collection, dating from 1,500 to 3,000 years ago.

Further inside, visitors can spot a burial chamber with an Iron Age wooden casket. People buried coffins in caves and cliffs, which can be found in Mae Hong Son, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai.

There is also a series of burial jars made around 1,800 to 2,000 years ago and found at the Ban Non Than archaeological site in Surin. In the past, people placed burial items in coffins like spear blades, pottery jars with geometric patterns, and jewelry so that the dead could enjoy the afterlife.

A long corridor exits a burial chamber and is decorated with a collection of ancient bronze vessels dating from 1,700 to 2,000 years ago. It includes a bronze Roman lantern from Egypt, a bronze sculpture of a rooster standing on a cage, and colorful carnelian and glass bead necklaces from the 7th to 11th centuries.

An architectural stone element represents Sujarata offering rice pudding to Gautama Buddha. Apichart jinakul

Then we reach the Dvaravati Hall, which houses a selection of dhamma wheels, ritual tablets and other architectural elements dating from the 5th to the 13th century. Dvaravati culture has spread to cities like U Thong, Kampaeng Saen, Dong Lakhon, Khu Bua, and Nakhon Pathom in Thailand, where historic sites, ruined structures, and artifacts have been found.

“The dhamma The wheels were created to mark important religious events before India developed a tradition of carving to pay homage to the Buddha, ”Suppawan said.

“Here we have Thailand’s biggest Gupta style dhamma wheel representing paco ferns. Initially, artisans adopted the Roman arts and were inspired by the king’s chariot wheels. The dhamma the wheels turn and provide dhamma light everywhere. It’s not like chariot wheels, which are associated with war and bloodshed. “

One can also see an architectural element from the 8th to the 9th century depicting a group of female musicians, as well as an 8th century carved stone stele depicting the twin miracles of Savatthi and stone heads of Buddha.

An architectural element from the 8th to the 9th century represents a group of musicians. Apichart jinakul

Our tour ended in the Srivijaya Hall, which can be divided into three areas to describe how Srivijaya’s influence spread to coastal towns in southern Thailand. In the 3rd century, 10 settlements on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand were important trading centers for Indian and Chinese maritime merchants, leading to cultural exchanges.

According to the inscription, the Kingdom of Srivijaya flourished in the Gulf of Thailand from the 8th to the 13th century and extended its territory to Indonesia. Srivijaya art is a hybrid of the Gupta, Post-Gupta and Pala-Sena styles which used stone and bronze as primary materials, similar to the art of the islands of Java and Sumatra. Besides the influence of Indian arts, the Dvaravati and Khmer styles are also featured in many historical sites and artefacts along this coastal region.

Highlights include a 1,200-year-old four-armed Vishnu statue, the Wat Maheyong inscription, Buddhist votive seals, a huge four-armed Ganesha sculpture sitting on a skull-shaped base, and a carved architectural feature depicting Sujarata offering rice pudding pudding to Gautama Buddha, all of which were made from the 7th to the 11th century.

The Bangkok National Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. Entrance is 30 baht for Thais and 200 baht for foreigners. For more information call 02-224-1333.

Ancient dhamma wheels from the Dvaravati period. Apichart jinakul

A statue of Bodhisattva Padmapani created between the 9th and 10th centuries. Apichart jinakul

A statue of Buddha in the posture of giving a blessing is a masterpiece of the Gupta Sarnath school. Apichart jinakul

A wooden coffin. Apichart jinakul

A Nepalese style Shakyamuni Buddha sculpture with lapis lazuli hair. Roparat Sukapirom

An Indian-pala style golden Buddha statue performs the eighth great miracle. Apichart jinakul

A Chinese-style Yamantaka statue depicts Bodhisattva Manjushri in a violent state. Apichart jinakul

A series of hunting and farming tools from the prehistoric period. Apichart jinakul

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