2. Buddha head
Thailand; Sukhothai Kingdom
14th-early 15th century
H. 35 cm or 13 ⅞ in
In the center of Thailand, the powerful Sukhothai Kingdom reached its political apogee during the reign of Ram Khamhaeng (reigned approx 1279-1299) and his successors. Sculptors of that period created an original set of aesthetics that became one of the most original styles in Thai art, and one which remained a recurring aesthetic reference until the end of the 19th century. The most beautiful works, however, were created a bit after the period of his political acme and date back only to the 14th or even early 15th century.
This beautiful and impressive head has all the characteristics of this “classical” period of Thai art: perfectly oval face, long aquiline nose, arched eyebrows, heavy eyelids, curly hair. But as is unfortunately often the case, the flame at the top of the skull, symbol of the spiritual force of the Enlightened One, is missing. When compared to all the Thai statues in the Alexander B. Griswold Collection – today at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, a collection that is a huge body of work in the field – it can be noted that the especially high forehead of this statue might be a chronological clue, as it is characteristic of the early 15th century (cf. Woodward, 1997, p. 170, No. 58).
Provenance: Private collection, Italy, since the 80s
Woodward, Hiram W., The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand. The Alexander B. Griswold Collection. The Walters Art Gallery. Bangkok : River Book, 1997 (republished 1999).