via Bangkok Post, 1 March 2018: An exhibition celebrating diplomatic relations between India and Thailand at the National Museum in Bangkok.
A visit to a temporary exhibition at the National Museum Bangkok at the former Front Palace near Sanam Luang is a good way for tourists to explore India, Thailand and some other Southeast Asian countries through Buddhist art. The ongoing exhibit entitled “Buddhist Imagery From Bharata To Suvarnabhumi” celebrates the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Thailand and India and the 25th anniversary of the Asean-India relationship.
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.
Recently-repatriated artefacts from the United States are on display at the National Museum in Bangkok. They were returned from the Bowers Museum in California last year after being determined that they came from looted contexts. A total of 554 pieces were returned, and an opening ceremony yesterday started off the exhibition that will carry on for the rest of the month.
The exhibition is on at the National Museum in Bangkok until 1 March 2015.
Richard Bammer of the Reporter visits three Southeast Asian Museums – The Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi, The Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap, and the National Museum Bangkok and contrasts the state of artefacts there.