What are the architectural styles in Thailand?

The architectural styles in Thailand.

Thai Architectural styles

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What are the architectural styles in Thailand?

Thailand’s architecture, influenced by Khmer, Lao, Mon, and Burmese styles, is regulated by strict norms and can be divided into various styles or periods.

Dvaravati style (6th–11th centuries)

Already by the sixth century, the kingdom of Dvaravati had extended over the whole area of what is now Central Thailand, from the Mon kingdom of Haripunchai at Lamphun in the north to Chaiya in the south. Inspired by Indian styles and under the influence of Theravada Buddhism, the Dvaravati style used perishable materials, such as wood and bricks made from laterite, which have left few traces. The remains of some twenty cities built on an oval plan have been found, together with a large number of square-based brick jedis (e.g., at Nakorn Pathom and Lamphun).

Srivijaya style (8th–13th centuries)

The Srivijaya period corresponds to the period of Indonesian colonization of the Malay peninsula. The capital of the kingdom was close to the present town of Palembang on the island of Sumatra, and its influence extended as far as Nakhorn Si Thammarat in the south of Thailand. Its monuments (Phra Boromathat Chaiya) were Hindu in inspiration and resemble those of Borobudur on Java, with sculptures and bas-reliefs representing Vishnu and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

Lopburi style (7–13″ centuries)

From the 7th century A.D. onwards, the Khmers extended their control over a large part of what is now Thailand, building their capital at Lopburi and introducing the architectural styles of Baphuon, Angkor Wat, and the Bayon. They constructed stone temples (praasaat h-n) that were both vast and elegant (Phimai, Buriram, Surin), with harmonious bas-reliefs describing both religious scenes (from Brahmanic sources and Mahayana Buddhism) and daily life (farming, war, festivals, music). The Khmer praang, which is the equivalent of the Thai jedi, is a massive tower typically shaped like an ear of corn. Numerous examples of it can be found in Thailand (Muang Tam, Lop Buri).

Lan Na style (13th–18th centuries)

Lan Na style appeared in the north of Thailand in the 13th century. It is also known as Chiang Saen style, after one of the Lan Na capitals on the Mekong. It developed principally in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and its main influences were from the Dvaravati and Sukothai styles or from Burma. Lan Na style is characterized by slender, delicate buildings with roofs in two or three layers, decorated with nagas and chofas (Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai). The oldest jedis had square bases (Wat Pa Sak in Chiang Saen), then the bases became hexagonal (Wat Jedi Luang in Chiang Saen and Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai). They were covered in stucco, bronze, or sometimes gold.

Most La Na buildings used perishable materials such as wood or whitewashed brick (a Burmese influence). As a result, the majority have disappeared or were rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Sukothai style (13th–15th centuries)

The Sukothai period is seen as marking the beginning of Thai art proper It developed in the center of what is now Thailand, around the towns of Sukothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaeng Pet. It is characterized by its vast groups of temples and monasteries (Wat Mahatat), which are themselves made up of large numbers of boht and wihaan made of wood or double layers of brick. The Sukothai jedi was originally modeled on the Khmer praang (the tower shaped like an ear of corn), as at Wat Si Sawai, but it became rounded like a lotus bud (as in Sri Lanka) or decorated with niches containing statues of the Buddha.

Ayutthaya style (15th–18th centuries)

The architecture at Ayutthaya took its inspiration simultaneously from Sukothai and Khmer style. From its beginnings in 1350, it has been characterized by the construction of majestic stone palaces and temples, with pillars shaped like lotus blossoms and walls that are covered in delicate decoration or painted with frescos showing scenes from the Jatakas. The prangs are towers containing holy relics, with square or polygonal bases and covered in stucco ornamentation. The jedis are rounded and tapered, as at Sukothai, or decorated with niches containing statues of the Buddha. Most of Ayutthaya’s buildings are lost to us. They disappeared when the city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767.

Ratanakosin-Bangkok style (1782 to the present)

After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital was moved to Thonburi, then Bangkok. It was there that a new style developed: Ratanakosin. The first buildings in the new style (bht, wihaan, etc.) were heavily influenced by those of the former capital and then by Chinese styles: bird-shaped chofas appeared on roof tops, and walls were covered with mosaic decoration made of pieces of glass and small colored tiles. Thai temple pillars in the form of lotus blossoms were replaced by full, straight pillars; jedis grew rounder, then tapered as in Sri Lankan style; and the prangs, like those of Ayutthaya, were covered in decoration (Wat Kukut). It was during the nineteenth century that vast religious and secular complexes such as Wat Phra Kaeo (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Royal Palace began to be built.

Thai Architectural Styles

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