Sukhothai Art

 


Left - Walking Buddha, circa 14th century AD. Currently enshrined at Wat Benchamabophit Dusit Wanaram, Bangkok.

Right - Bronze Buddha in 'Subduring Mara' (Maravijaya) posture, circa 14th-15th century AD. Currently on exhibition at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province.

Back - Bronze Buddha in 'Subduring Mara' (Maravijaya) posture, circa late 14th century AD. Currently on exhibit at at the Bangkok National Museum

 

In 14th centuries AD, King Sri Indrathit declared Sukhothai's liberation from the Khmer and adopted a form of Buddhism based on the Sri Lankan School. During thid period, Sukhothai Art developed a radically different appearance to Mon and Khmer styles. The differences can be seen in the 'Walking Buddha', an original creation of the Sukhothai School. The inspiration for this new style came from the 'Mahapurislaksana (Features of the Great Man) Text', which developed the idea of idealistic and superhuman characteristics and expressed the power of compassion and serenity. Such developments have made Sukhothai Art worthy of high praise as a truly unique and beautiful style. It was also during this period that the 'Four-postured' group of Buddha images were created. The four poses consisted of, walking, standing, sitting and reclining Sukhothai images can be classified into four distinct groups.

 


Right - Phra Phuttpachinaraj in 'Subduring Mara'
(Maravijaya) posture, circa late 15th century AD. Currently enshrined at Phra Wiharn (Vihara), Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Amphoe Muang, Phitsanulok Province.

Left - Bronze head of Buddha in 'Subduring Mara' (Maravijaya) posture, circa 15th century AD. Currently on exhibit at at the Bangkok National Museum

Right - Bronze head of Buddha, circa 14th century AD. Currently on exhibit at at the Bangkok National Museum

 

The Major Group Distinguished Sukhothai featured included a flame aureole, whorls of fine curled hair, an oval face, high curving eyebrows, downward gazing eyes, hooked nose and a gentle smiling expression. The torso included broad shoulders and a small waist. Robes were hung diagonally across the body and were completed with a zigzag edged mantle that extended down to the navel. Most commonly the Buddha would be seated in the Subduring Mara (Maravijaya) posture on a plain base.

 

The Kamphaengphet Group The characteristics are generally similar to the Major group apart from a broader upper face and a pointed chin.

 

The Phra Phuttpachinaraj Group In this group, thought to have originated during the reign of King Lithai, the aureole is flame-shaped, the torso is rather plump, the face rounded and all fingers (excluding the thumb) on each hand were of equal length.

 

The Heterogeneous Group or Wat Ta Kuan Group First discovered at Wat Ta Kuan in Sukhothai. The facial features are similar to images from the early Chiang Saen - Lanna period. The style is throught to have been created during the early 14th century AD.