The sacred feminine in Thailand

Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

The National Museum in Bangkok is having a special exhibition featuring female deities from various religions in Thailand: Buddhism, Hinduism and indigenous cults.

Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527
Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

The feminine divine
Bangkok Post, 27 May 2015

To celebrate the 60th birthday of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Fine Arts Department is hosting a special exhibition, “Feminine Deities: Buddhism, Hinduism And Indigenous Cults In Thailand”, at the National Museum Bangkok. The objective is to disseminate knowledge about faith and beliefs relating to women in Thailand through the ages via religious sculptures.

The exhibition is divided into four parts — Goddesses: Traditional Beliefs From The Past; Goddesses In Brahmanism-Hinduism: The Supreme Power Of Females; Female Deities In Buddhism: The Power Of Intellect; and Goddesses In Traditional Beliefs: The Power Of Nature.

The first section shows that people have believed in the existence of goddesses since prehistoric times. Goddesses are believed to have supernatural powers, which allow them to control aspects of nature. Accordingly, people believe that they can indirectly influence nature by worshipping goddesses. The Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess is believed to be responsible for the fertility of women and their natural mothering instincts. Sculptures of women produced by ancient civilisations in Europe, Asia, America and Africa provide evidence of the widespread belief in the power of goddesses and the high status of women at that time. Their most notable features are their large hips (signifying the ability to give birth) and breasts (signifying the ability to nurture). Even in the present day, goddesses are still widely worshipped by followers of certain religions.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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