April 25th, 2008
As part of an official trip for the Networking of ASEAN Cultural Heritage (NACH), I had the pleasure of visiting Sukhothai, the old historic kingdom of Thailand, sometime in end January this year. Existing from 1238 to 1438, Sukhothai is the first kingdom of Siam, and its old capital is now a historic park which has been gazetted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It has a number of fine monuments which showcase the beginnings of Thai architecture and can be considered one of the cradles of Thai civilisation.
Ruled by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who created the Thai alphabet, Sukhothai once stretched all the way from Martaban in Myanmar to Luang Prabang (Laos) and down south to the Malay Peninsula. Its influence was larger than that of modern Thailand, and the kingdom appeared to have absorbed the styles of Khmer, Thai and Sri Lankan cultures as seen in its temples and pagodas.
A blissful retreat nestled amidst charming organic farms, the Sukothai Heritage Resort is a great respite from the urban jungle.
We received this Anya Hindmarch creation as a memento of its Sukothai’s positioning as a “green” destination.
At the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, I shot this mirror-imaged exhibit of two Buddha statues in the cross-legged “earth touching” position.
More artefacts on display, excavated from the ancient kingdom’s temples and stupas.
We next went to the Historic Park at Sukothai, greeted by lush greenery and awe inspiring Buddhist temples, stupas and other ruins.
Wat Si Sawai at Sukhothai Historic Park, with the regional delegation from NACH’s various ASEAN countries striking a pose.
Phra Achana at Wat Si Chum of Sukhothai Historic Park in the traditional “Earth touching” posture. Note the slender and feminine demeanour of the Thai-style Buddhist statue.
A standing statue of Buddha, showing the differences in size with a puny tourist.
A stone effigy of the Thai’s beloved King Ramkamhaeng who was respected and worshipped like a deity. Folks were running to pray to him despite the rain.
The Park had other non-human visitors, like this charming Siam elephant here.
Certain heritage traditions were still alive in Thailand, like the painting of ceramics…
…traditional Siam dances…
…and Thai styled music from an ensemble.
Our visit also took us to architectural sites, like this one here, which has authentically recreated replicas of human skeletons.
Pottery pieces on display at a pottery museum near the historic park.
Finally, a lucky shot of the rainbow, which appears to be a trait of some of my recent trips.
Tags: culture, Heritage, Sukhothai, Thailand