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A new exhibition opened last week at the Bangkok National Museum – Dvaravati Art: The Early Buddhist Art of Thailand puts together over a hundred artefacts collected from 12 museums showcasing this kingdom that ruled over central Thailand between the 6th and 11th century.

Mon-Dvaravati Sculpture of seated Buddha, c. 8th century. From the Nei Xue Tang Museum.

Ancient masterpieces
Bangkok Post, 13 August 2009

The art items, totalling 149 from 12 national museums across the nation, are to be put together at a special exhibition, “Dvaravati Art: The Early Buddhist Art of Thailand”, at the Bangkok National Museum that begins tomorrow and lasts until October 9. The event is a cooperation between the Fine Arts Department of Thailand and the French embassy in Bangkok, which previously held a special Dvaravati exhibition at the Guimet Museum in Paris earlier this year. After the exhibition in Bangkok, all the art items will be returned to their respective museums, mostly in neighbouring provinces in the central plains, including Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri. Although the central plains are believed to be the cradle of the Dvaravati civilisation that prospered between the 12th and 16th centuries of the Buddhist era (6th to 11th century AD), its influence also extended to the South of Thailand _ prevailing in the Wiang Sa district in Surat Thani and in Yarang district in Pattani _ and to the North _ gaining a foothold in the old Haripunchai state that is now Lamphun at the end of the period in the 16th century.

Most of the selected items, which range from the dharmachakra, or wheel of the law, to Buddha images, stucco depicting Jataka stories, decorative dwarf sculptures and votive tablets are related to Buddhist art, the theme of the exhibition in the French museum.

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