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Thailand Travel Information: Thai Cultures

Thai culture is a unique variant of many cultures in Asia. Lying between the two great hubs of Asian civilization, China and India, it is not surprising to see the significant traces of Hindu and Chinese cultures in Thai culture, too. Through a long course of times, the Thai people have developed their own characteristic culture that rooted in Thai society.

Thai culture can embrace many of its aspects; it can be language, art, way of life, value as well as people's attitude.

 

Language

Thai language is one of the best symbols of Thai culture. Thai alphabet was invented by King Ramkamheng the Great in 1283 by modeling on the ancient Indian alphabets of Sanskrit and Pali languages through the medium of the old Khmer character. 

The inscriptions found in Sukhothai are the fruitful evidence of linguistic history in Thailand. Through along course of times, Thai language has evolved to have 44 letters (including 2 obsolete ones). 

Thai language basically consists of monosyllable words whose meanings are complete by themselves. Another dominant feature is that Thai language is a tonal language with five different tones: low tone, high tone, falling tone, rising tone, and mid tone. For example, the word "Mai" when pronounced with the low tone will mean "new"; with the high tone is "wood"; with falling tone will be "not"; with the rising tone is "silk". Despite the difficulties of tones, Thai grammar is quite easy; there is no conjugation like French and English verbs, and verbs are not irregular. The difference in a sentence between present, future, and past time is indicated by a small word added. Like most of languages of the world, Thai language is influenced by the foreign languages as there are many words used today were derived from Pali, Sanskrit, Khmer, Malay, Chinese and English.

Arts

Once you are in Thailand, what cannot be unmentioned are Thai arts represented as temples, architecture, painting, crafts, dance and music. Thai arts are a result of the assimilation of many artistic influences of various periods throughout its history. The most predominant one is that of India, and they evolved to be typical Thai arts that can boast its grace and charm today. Although Thai arts are the blend of diverse influences, the real source of inspiration and influence is Buddhism which profoundly rooted in Thai society for longtime. Unsurprisingly, most of artistic expressions in Thailand, Buddhism is implied in some ways.

Painting: Classical Thai painting is mostly confined to mural painting inside Buddhist temples and palaces. Themes depicted in mural painting are mostly related to Buddhism, such as Buddha's lives, stories of the three worlds (heaven, earth and hell) as well as scenes of customs and traditions of people. Mural painting serves several functions: to embellish and dignify the place of worship, to promote Buddhism, and to educate people through pictures.

Architecture: Thai classical architecture is represented as the royal palace buildings, pagodas, stupas, and temples. Thai architecture is influenced by Indian, Mon Khmer, and China. The typical feature of Thai architecture is overlapping rooftops and soaring pointed towers, elaborately ornamented with carved wood and stucco, gilded lacquer work, in-laid work, Chinese porcelain and color glass mosaic.

Sculpture: Thai sculpture mostly focuses on Buddha images that rank among the world's greatest expressions of Buddhist art. Sculptural styles are varied from each other in each period. The Sukhothai period is the golden age of Thai sculpture. Buddha images during this period were portrayed in a graceful and gentle figure and in various positions: standing, sitting, walking, and reclining. During Ayutthaya period, three stages of styles are distinguished. In the early and the middle periods of Ayutthaya, sculptors still admitted Khmer and Sukhothai styles, respectively. When it comes to the late Ayutthaya, sculptors developed their style to be decorative Buddha images in royal attire which continues its popularity in Rattanakosin period as well.

Literature: In early days, Thai literature limitedly concerned religion, royalty, and aristocracy rather than popular lives. Most of them were written in verse of various patterns. Thai literary history was face-lifted in the early 20th during the reign of King Rama VI, the poet king. Prose has become a favorite form of work among Thai writers ever since. Themes depicted in their works were changed from the court life to the common life scenes.

Drama: Thai drama embraces also a dance, originating in the royal court. The techniques of dancing are based on Indian origin, and were developed to be more graceful and slow in movement. The most outstanding of Thai drama is "Khon", classical masked dance drama, characterized by the mask-wearing performers with their rhythmic, puppet-like movements. Khon usually depicts the story of Ramakien which was derived from the great epic Ramayana of India. Apart from Khon, there other kinds of dramas, including Lakhon or classical Thai dance drama (dancing is more graceful than Khon), Like (Thai folk opera), Na Yai and Nang Talung (shadow play), and Hun (marionettes).

Music: Thai classical music is influenced by Indian culture through the Mons and Khamers. Later, Thai people created their own instruments, becoming the distinctive Thai music. Thai classical music used the diatonic music scale, and the instruments are divided into four groups: those of plucking, drawing, percussion and woodwind. Music is played as an accompaniment in drama and dance and in religious ceremonies.

 

 

 

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