Why is Southeast Asian architecture so pointed


For seven centuries, Thai builders and artists had time to combine Indian, Chinese and Ceylonese influences into their own, unmistakable style. As in the Christian West before the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, art in Thailand was initially entirely at the service of religion: numerous Buddhist monasteries still bear witness to this art-historical epoch to this day. The old capital Sukhothai was the first to experience the rise of an early, specifically Thai style. Just think of the graceful lotus flower knob that can be found in several temple ruins in the city. In Ayutthaya, which ruled for four hundred years, the temples were even more elaborately decorated, and this procession then continued into the Rattanakosin and Bangkok periods, as the fascinating ornamentation of the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha Temple impressively demonstrate. The classic ornamentation includes carved wooden panels on gables, doors and windows, often with mother-of-pearl inlays, or ceramics framed with glass mosaic and stucco. In several temples, wall paintings adorn the interior walls, populated by intertwined figures, which depict the life of the Buddha or illustrate his teachings with moralizing stories.

Thailand has also achieved remarkable achievements in religious sculpture: the Sukhothai Buddha statue, for example, in which strength and flowing grace ideally complement each other, is highly valued worldwide. The same can be said of the huge stone sculptures in Ayutthaya.

Of course, the Khmer Empire of Angkor also left temples and sculptures of art historical importance, as this extended over large parts of what was later to become Siam and what is now Thailand.

The creative power of Thai artists and builders is not only expressed in religious art, but is also present in the traditional home of the Thais. As simple as its construction may seem, the lively elegance of its lines, the slightly sloping walls, the steep roof and the curved ridges cannot be overlooked.

Thai artists from the Sukhothai era burned glazed ceramics that were traded throughout Southeast Asia and are now coveted collectibles. Everyday utensils - timeless water jugs and baskets, spinning wheels, clothing with artistic demands, etc. - are characterized by pleasing shapes and colors.

Examples from temple architecture

Thai temples are wonderful structures with their high, curved roofs and rich decorations. The »bot« (consecration or ordination room) and »viharn« (hall for daily church services), both architecturally similar, are the most important buildings.

Here are some typical architectural features:

The Prang is a tall finger-shaped tower, usually with rich ornaments. It was typical of the religious architecture of the Khmer, was later adopted by the Thais and thus shaped e.g. the Ayutthaya and Bankok periods. In Thailand only the most important religious buildings are designed in this way.

At the That it is a reliquary tower, as it is typically found in Laos and the northeast regions of Thailand. It has a square plan and a high, tapering tower full of decorative ornaments.

The Chedi is a reliquary tower, synonymous with "stupa". It is a solid and usually high, but always powerful building that contains the remains of Buddha, his disciples or the ashes of important religious or royal personalities. Among the various forms of chedi, the bell-shaped, tall, pointed tower of graceful dimensions is the most common. It can have a square base as in the Mon style of Haripunchai or it can show the shape of a pyramid with its steps.

The Prasat is a tower-shaped sanctuary dating back to the Khmer. Prasat is sometimes a general term for the Khmer structures of a temple. Just as it was adopted by the Thai architects, the Prasat is always a religious or royal building, usually in the shape of a cross and by one Prang crowned. The traditional royal pyre as a symbol of the Golden Merus, for example, has the shape of a Prasat.

Sema: symbolic cornerstone of a Bot, at the same time the characteristic that distinguishes him from a Viharn differs. One at the corners and axes Bot When erected, they have the shape of stone slabs with carved decorations.

Chofa means "heavenly tassel" and adorns the ridge ends of one as a conspicuous architectural motif Bot or Viharn in the form of a graceful attachment, similar to an elongated bird's neck and head. According to common belief, it symbolizes Garuda. When a temple is completed, it is placed on the roof at a special ceremony.

Mongkut is an architectural ornament, consisting of rows of discs tapering up to the tip. On a prasat or other religious building, the rows symbolize the thirty-three levels of Buddhist perfection.