|Thailand Travel Information: Thai
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.
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
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.
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
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.