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Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer

Thailand; Sukhothai Style
15th c.; Post-classic period, Kamphaeng Phet
H. (including finial) 119 cms, 47 ins

A magnificent bronze bust of the Buddha, the right hand raised in abhayamudra and the left pendant by his side, the eyes inlaid with mother of pearl and hypnotic beneath deeply arched brows, a raised chignon with snail-curls rising to a flame usnisha; the thin sanghati covering both shoulders, pleated at the sleeves and held in place by a broad belt and a central fold between his legs, with extensive traces of gilding.

Kamphaeng Phet was a royal city in the Sukhothai kingdom and was also an important strategic town during the succeeding Ayutthaya kingdom. Thais regard the Sukhothai period as a �golden age� and images like this one represent the pinnacle of Thai artistic achievement. In his paper entitled An Appreciation of Sukhothai Art (Bangkok: Fine Arts Department, 1962), Professor Silpa Bhirasri describes the spiritual power of Sukhothai period sculptures:
�Their creations seem to master the tumult of human passions, and the faint smile tells us of happiness and peace gained by subduing the earthly and primordial instincts�.

The great Phra Buddha Jinnarat from Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, Phitsanulok, one of the most revered images in Thailand, is a sublime example of the late Sukhothai type � see page 112 in S. Van Beek and L. Tettoni, The Arts Of Thailand, Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, 2000. For a fine example of a Kamphaeng Phet Buddha head in the Bangkok National Museum, see page 115 (ibid.).

all text, images � Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer


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