Asian art fascinanates western artists

An Art and Religious Crossroad of Southeast Asia

Thailand has long been hailed as a crossroads for trade in Southeast Asia. For many years, the country showed the world a culture that reflected this status. Cosmopolitan in nature, the public art of Thailand reflected the styles of its neighbors. Much of the art was religious in nature. India, Cambodia and China were all well represented in temple decorations. Many scholars made the mistake of believing all Thai art forms were simply derivative of neighboring influences.

Over the last few decades, scholars have taken another look at the art of Thailand. This is especially true of religious art forms. Buddha is widely revered in this land as it is throughout much of Asia, and there are a great many temples to celebrate Buddhism. Thai artists and architects took the works of their neighbors and publicly displayed much of it. Rather than copying their neighbors, they incorporated t heir own elements inconspicuously without creating a fusion of styles. Modern scholars are still classifying these elements that are not copies of other cultures, but uniquely Thai in nature.