Thai literature and art

The culture of Thailand incorporates cultural beliefs and characteristics indigenous to the area known as modern-day Thailand coupled with much influence from ancient India, China, Cambodia, along with the neighboring pre-historic cultures of Southeast Asia. It is influenced primarily by Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as by later migrations from China, and southern India.

Thai visual art was traditionally primarily Buddhist. Thai Buddha images from different periods have many distinctive styles. Thai temple art and architecture evolved from several sources, one of them being Khmer architecture. Contemporary Thai art often combines traditional Thai elements with modern techniques.
During the Sukhothai period (1248-1348) religious sculptures did not pay attention to anatomical detail, but by the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767) these images became more elaborate. During these two eras, artistic development was largely confined to religious and royal spheres, with large amounts of money and great attention given to religious art.
Sukhothai was considered the Golden Age of Thai art and development and it was indeed one of the region’s earliest civilized and wealthy kingdoms. But artistic periods stretch back much earlier to include the Lanna Kingdom (where Chiang Mai is today) and even the Dvaravati era dating from the ninth century. Many fine pieces from these periods are preserved in the National Museum in Bangkok
The music of Thailand includes classical and folk music traditions (for example piphat and mor lam, respectively) as well as string or pop music.


Sculpture in Thailand was confined in the past to casting Buddha images. They carried this art to perfection both in technique and artistic expression. Some ancient specimens of this art can be compared favorably with other nation's classical arts.
Painting in Thailand was also in the past confined to mural tempera painting within the temple buildings. The style was more conventionalized and achieved some artistic manifestations to a high degree, but it cannot be compared to sculpture which was a perfect artistic achievement.
Modern architecture sculpture and painting of Thailand are of Western-style. But to carry on her artistic traditions as peculiarly her own and enriching humanity, the problem is to preserve her classical arts as a source of inspiration for evolving her modern arts with the progress of the times to preserve her own identity individual cultures suitably within the culture of a wider one.
The music of Thailand is akin to that of the Chinese. The Thai especially the scale of music is a diatonic one, with neither major nor minor in the sense of western music, but with a special diatonic scale characteristic of her own. Though music in the theoretical conception of Buddhism is not tolerated by the monks, usage is allowed in certain religious ceremonies. no doubt to promote religious emotions, and also on festive occasions.

art and literature

Thai literature was traditionally heavily influenced by Indian culture. Thailand's national epic is a version of the Ramayana called the Ramakien. Some versions of the epic were lost in the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767. Three versions currently exist: one of these was prepared under the supervision (and partly written by) King Rama I. His son, Rama II, rewrote some parts for khon drama. The main differences from the original are an extended role for the monkey god Hanuman and the addition of a happy ending.
There is no tradition of spoken drama in Thailand, the role instead of being filled by Thai dance. This is divided into three categories - khon, lakhon, and likay - khon being the most elaborate and likay the most popular. Nang drama, a form of shadow play, is found in the south.
The most important poet in Thai literature was Sunthorn Phu, who is best known for his romantic adventure story Phra Aphai Mani and nine travel pieces called Nirats.
The 20th-century Thai writers have tended to produce light fiction rather than literature for a burgeoning literature market. But increasingly, individual writers are being recognized for producing more serious works, including writers like Kukrit Pramoj, Kulap Saipradit, (penname Siburapha), Botan, and others. Some of their works have been translated into English. The Isan region of Thailand has produced two notably sociocritical writers in Khamsing Srinawk and Pira Sudham. Notably, Pira Sudham writes in English.
Thailand has had a wealth of expatriate writers in the 20th century as well. The Bangkok Writers Group is currently publishing fiction by Indian author G.Y. Gopinath, the fabulist A.D. Thompson, as well as non-fiction by Gary Dale Cearley.

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