Court culture refers to
the conception of beauty, perfection and harmony in fine
arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture,
literature, drama and music. In the old days, most of
these originated in or received the patronage of royal
court and nobility. Most of the works served Buddhist
religion. Their styles were influenced by Indian through
Mon and Khmer, and then were blended and developed in
unique forms recognized as Thai.
Classical Thai painting is mostly confined to mural
painting inside Buddhist temples and places. They are
idealistic and themes frequently depicted are those
related to Buddhism, such as Buddha's life stories,
stories of 3 worlds (heaven, earth and hell), and also
those concerning customs and traditions. Subjects of the
painting reflect different purposes: To beauty and dignify
the places of worship, to promote Buddhism and to educate
people through pictures.
Apart from royal palace buildings, classical Thai
architecture can be found in monastic monuments, pagodas
and temples, which have been the focal points of Thai
community activities for centuries. Admitting Indian,
Khmer and other influences, such as Chinese and Burmese,
Thai architects developed their own distinctive style of
sloping multitiered roof-tops and soaring printed towers,
intricately ornamented with carved wood and stucco, gilded
lacquer work. mother-of-pearl inlay, Chinese porcelain
fragments and color glass mosaic. Under tropical sun,
these buildings gave out artistic harmony of flamboyance
and serenity. Examples of Thai architecture are seen in
Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Pho, Wat Suthat, Grand Palace,...
Thai sculpture is concentrated on Buddha images that rank among the world's
greatest expressions of Buddhist art. As a result, it is
widely believed that Buddha images in Thailand, from
Chiang Saen Period (11-13th century) to the present
Rattanakosin or Bangkok Period, are so numerous that they
far outnumber the population of the country. These
sculptures are made in wood, metal, ivory, precious stones
and stucco and have been created to represent Ratanartai
of Buddhism, i.e., Buddha, Dhamma (Buddha's doctrine) and
Sanga (Buddhist clergy). Among the most beautiful Buddha
images in Thailand are Phra Buddha Chinnarat in Wat
Mahathat (Phistanulok province) and Phra Buddha Chinnasi
in Wat Bowon Niwet (Bangkok).
In the early days, Thai literature was concerned with
religion, royalty and aristocracy and hardly anything
else. They were written in verse of various patterns.
Then, in the early 20th century, King Rama VI made
revolution in Thai literary history. Prose has become
favorite form of writing among Thai writers since then,
and common files scenes have been depicted in their works.
One of the most important Thai literary pieces in Ramakian,
an epic derived from "Ramayana" of India.
In the purely classical form, Thai drama and dance are
indivisible. Techniques of dancing are of Indian origin,
but Thai people evolved them to be much more graceful and
slow in motion. Thai dramas include renowned Khon
(masked drama), Lakhon (less formal dance drama
with movements more graceful than Khon), Nang Yai
and Nang Talung (shadow plays) and Hun
(marionettes). In former days, dramas were normally
performed only in royal courts and noble mansions.
Ordinary people could enjoy such performances only on
festive occasions in compound of Buddhist monastery.
Thai classical music uses the diatonic music scale. The
instruments are of four kinds: Those of plucking, drawing,
percussion and woodwind. Apart from drama, Thai classical
music is played in some religious ceremonies, traditional
rites and on festive occasions.