Religious Influence of Buddha in Thai Art

Asian Life

The official religion of Thailand is Buddhism. By the 13th century, most of the country had followed their king and converted to this religion. Today, Theravada Buddhism is practiced by the vast majority of Thai's. Many cultures have celebrated their religion through works of art and the people of Thailand are no exception. Temples are highly decorated, and many display amazing statues of Buddha as their primary work of art.

Guatama Buddha is the central religious figure of Theravada Buddhism. Buddha statues are widespread throughout the country of Thailand. They adorn the nearly 40,000 temple that has been built in the last 800 years. While many were made by local artisans, there are some that are quite famous throughout the world. One of the most famous Buddha statues is the Emerald Buddha. It is a sitting Buddha carved from one piece of jade. This statue now resides in the temple located in the Grand Palace. It was moved to Bangkok after earthquakes ruined its original temple.

Wat Kutao is located in the northern city of Chaing Mai and has its share of Buddha statues. Four golden Buddha statues overlook a stuffed crocodile. They are in a sitting position and reflect Buddha meditating. Northern Thailand is also represented by the ruins of Wat Mahathat. This ancient temple has a sitting stone Buddha that can be admired by visitors when they tour the grounds. Sitting in a meditation position, this famous Buddha statue is carved from rock and dominates the temple ruins.

For those that want to see Buddha reclining, Wat Pho temple in Bangkok is the place to visit. Their Buddha statue is 160 feet long and presents Buddha in a unique position. He is reclining rather than sitting in meditation. Featured in gold, this beautiful piece of art should be one of the first visitors to this country take the time to view.