Art of Thailand
Art of Thailand creating a new order
The last great phase of Cambodian dominance coincides with the reign of Jayavarman VII, who came to the throne in 1181 and died at an unknown date between 1206 and 12 20. Subsequently, the dominant Buddhism was a different sort, characterized by a bundle of iconographic traits I shall call Ariya (“Noble”). Some understanding of the Ariya movement helps give shape to the thirteenth century, especially because epigraphical evidence and dated buildings or objects are so few and far between. Ariya ideology can be understood in various ways: as a reaction against Jayavarman VII’s imperial pretensions; as a continuation of trends that can be detected in the decades before the monarch’s ascension, when there was weakness at the capital and when such evidence; as a “Mon” resurgence; and as an attempt to create an order that would sound the death knell for such traditional Angkorian practices as the composition of royal Sanskrit inscriptions and the building of monumental stone temple-tombs. This chapter will take a regional approach, circling through Thailand and introducing the themes of ideological change again and again, and close with a focus on the central plain, prior to the establishment of a new Buddhist identity at Sukhothai in the middle decades of the fourteenth century, and to the foundation of the city of Ayutthaya in 1351.
The strands in Jayavarman VII’s Buddhism were many. At the core lay a triad that had been worshiped in the tenth century, consisting of Lokesvara (Avalokitesvara), the Buddha, and Prajnaparamita, a triad that Jayavarman saw in familial terms—identifying his father and mother with the flanking couple, the two producing Jayavarman just as compassion and wisdom together engender enlightenment.
The standard icon is the naga-protected Buddha. The Bodhisattva Lokesvara could—as at Banteay Chmar—become a supreme cosmic savior, and beginning in about the last decade of the twelfth century he was featured on temple pediments. The cult of the healing Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru, was the stimulus for Jayavarman’s construction of hospitals throughout his empire. Meanwhile, Tantric elements were also present—elements that apparently formed an esoteric but congruent aspect of the dominant triad. In addition, there was a consciousness of basic elements in Buddhist cosmology; this interest led to the creation at Neak Pean of a Lake Anavatapta, source of the sacred rivers, and to a view of the Bayon as a re-creation of the palace of the god Indra.
In interpreting the faces of the towers of the Bayon, scholars have sought explanations that accord with one or another of these different strands. In one view, the faces represent the Buddha, or the Buddha in Tantric manifestations—vajra aspects conquering and guarding. According to another view, in the words of Nandana Chutiwongs, “from the high towers, Lokesvara looked in all directions, watching over the welfare of the universe, ruling over all the gods, great and small, who emanated from him and were worshiped in the temples in all parts of the empire.” Still another explanation, rooted in traditional Cambodian and Thai Buddhist nomenclature and cosmological texts, has it that the faces represent the visit to Indra’s palace by the gods of the Brahma heavens. It is also possible to suppose that more than one explanation is correct, either because of syncretism or because one rationale replaced another, perhaps at the time of a change in plan at the Bayon; the faces may have been planned as “Vajra” beings, it has been proposed, but were later transformed into the gods of the Brahma heavens.
The views of the Ariya sect that dominated Siam in the thirteenth century, in the post-Bayon period, must be distinguished from the cults of Jayavarman’s triad, of Lokesvara, of the healing Buddha, and of the greater part of Buddhist Tantrism. The provisional term, Ariya, has been taken from ariyarahantapakkhabhikkhusangha, the monastic sect of the noble arhats, the name given by the Kalyani inscriptions of Pegu to the pre-Sinhalese sect in Burma. The Thai historian Prince Damrong Rajanubhab recognized this phase in the religious history of Thailand, but he called it “Hlnayana of the Pagan type.” In the absence of written documentation, it must be characterized entirely in terms of iconographical features, for which the contemporary names, in either Pali or the vernacular, are unknown: Buddha images in the earth-touching pose; images with pointed crowns; groups of three Buddhas; Buddhas holding a hand in front of the chest; and, in architecture, friezes of masks, and guardian masks at corners. These features are ones found also, for the most part, in the art of Pagan, and beyond that, in Pala India.
Pl. 56, for example, shows a votive tablet of a type made in Lamphun (Haripunjaya), probably in the twelfth century. In the upper register, the mirrored gestures of the two flanking Buddhas, each with his inner hand held in front of his chest, suggest that they are magically produced. There is other evidence for associating the hand-before-chest gesture with the enlightenment: one Burmese type of votive tablet consists of an earth-touching Buddha under a representation of the Mahabodhi temple, flanked by standing Buddhas performing gestures like those seen here (a votive tablet of this sort was uncovered at Sukhothai); the corner towers at Pagan’s replica of the Mahabodhi temple have Buddhas with a hand-before-chest pose; and Buddha images of the same sort appear on a small model of the Mahabodhi temple in Boston. The pose can also be found in Pala manuscript painting. At the temple of Kamph^ng L£ng in Phetchaburi a Buddha image in the southern niche of the southern shrine (pl. 80A and fig. 23c) appears to follow a comparable pattern; here the standing Buddha can be imagined as one produced either by the image inside the shrine, or by the image inside the central shrine just to the north. At the post-Bayon Monument 486 at Angkor (fig. 23d), two secondary shrines are attached to the northern and southern sides of a much older sanctuary, one dating from the tenth century, and within the niches of the flanking shrines appear standing Buddha images, in hand-before-chest poses. The theme of north and south flanking shrines can be extended to cases in which there is no evidence for standing Buddha images: at the Lopburi Mahathat (pl. 51), flanking shrines of brick were attached to a central laterite sanctuary. At Sukhothai, the “gold” and “silver” shrines mentioned in Ram Khamhaeng’s inscription of the late thirteenth century may also have been flanking structures—ones still extant in the Mahathat compound. Many votive tablets exhibit a comparable arrangement, and in pl. 80B, a metal version of a thirteenth- century ceramic tablet, an earth-touching Buddha appears between two naga-protected Buddhas. Another extension of the theme makes the “produced” Buddhas the twenty-seven Buddhas who preceded S akyamuni; these Buddhas appear around the base of a twelfth- century bronze image (pl. 70B) and—more frequently—in the leaves of the aureole surrounding a principal image, as can be seen in the Kimbell altarpiece (pl. 71).
Buddhist subjects or styles emanating from Pala India have been an element in earlier pages of this history: examples are the votive tablet (pl. 38B) depicting the earth-touching Buddha in a trefoil niche, with undulant-profiled colonnettes (a reflection of the Bodh Gaya style of the early eleventh century) and the three-dimensional reflection of the type in bronze (pl. 39A). Much of the imagery at Phimai has Pala sources. The fresh subject matter appeared in two guises: in a kind of Indo-Burmese style and in an entirely Khmer style. It has rounded shoulders, a head sunk into the body in such a way that no neck is visible, and an extremely long, rounded right arm. At the sides are motifs and concepts that were totally transformed into a Khmer idiom at Angkor in the late twelfth century: tassels on the colonettes and adorants. In fact, adorant images became an important subject at Angkor toward the end of Jayavarman VII’s life. An artist working in one milieu might respond to the formal qualities of such a tablet, such as the way the body of the Buddha funnels from waist to shoulders. On the other hand it is possible to respond to subject matter alone and to present it in a new idiom. An example would be the bronze altarpiece in pl. 70B, of about the third quarter of the twelfth century. Here is an Ariya theme, that of the Buddhas of the past (which appear on the front and sides of the base). But the stylistic concerns are classically Angkorian: a solid, architectonic human body, a framing rounded diadem, a strong sense of horizontals, and a precise and delicate texturing. The border of buds characterizes such objects as a bronze naga-protected Buddha found in Surin province and now in Cleveland, a work that might date from the post-Suryavarman II period.
A hundred years and more later, the popularity of these Ariya themes began to fade slowly. Eventually a new religious order was established at Sukhothai in the mid-fourteenth century, with the return of the monk Srlsaddha to Sukhothai from Sri Lanka (ca.1340s) and the arrival of Medhankara from Martaban in 1361. Even so, Ariya flanking shrines characterize what are thought to be early Ayutthaya-period monasteries such as Wat Mahathat in Ratchaburi. This type was a revival of a tenth- eleventh-century icon (pl. 36)—a revival for which the Lao connections of early Sukhothai culture may provide an explanation—and was evidently adopted for the giant “eighteen-cubit” images at Wat Saphan Hin and Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai. The concept of a Buddha measuring eighteen cubits may have come from Haripunjaya and Pagan.
The rise of Ariya features following the death of Jayavarman VII makes little sense unless this sort of Buddhism had roots in an earlier period—especially in the period between the reigns of Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII. The ultimate sources presumably lie in Dvaravatr, in a Buddhism that was then transformed by the influence of Phimai Tantrism and, more strongly, by Burmese developments of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
The strategy of the sections that follow will be to close in on central Siam: to try to discern the shape of developments in Haripunjaya, Sukhothai, the peninsula, and then Cambodia itself (together with northeastern Thailand), before returning to the central plains.
The most vigorous living alternatives to the Khmer way of doing things lay in the kingdom of Haripunjaya. It was the Mon city that continued to flourish with religious and political independence as other centers succumbed to Cambodian domination, and it remained a cultural center even after its seizure by the Thai leader Mang Rai in 1281. A votive table of Lamphun type (pl. 56) has already been used to illustrate Ariya themes, and surely Haripunjaya was an important center for the dissemination of Ariya beliefs. Relatively speaking, there is a wealth of information about Haripunjaya—a historical tradition, preserved in Pali and Thai, as well as inscriptions and artifacts—that helps to establish a chronology of the art and architecture of the sites of Haripunjaya (modern Lamphun) and its sister towns Wiang Mano, Wiang Tha Kan, and Wiang Tho.
The Pali chronicle the Jinakalamali, compiled in the sixteenth century, recounts that in a year equivalent to A. D. 662, the year after the sage Vasudeva had established Haripunjaya, the princess Cammadevl came to rule from Lava or Lopburi. It has also been pointed out that some of the earliest examples of Haripunjaya art, of the tenth or eleventh century, appear to have stronger links with the Mon art of the Northeast than with central Dvaravatl. The votive tablet, pl. 56, evokes the art of various regions. The outer attendants of the lower register, probably Bodhisattvas, may have descended from the figures on the plates deposited under the corner stupas at Chedi Chunla Pathon (pl. 23A). The cusped inner frame around the upper Buddha recalls the late- Dvaravatl tablet found in Ban Samphao Lom, Suphanburi (pl. 29B). There may be a connection between the small stupas—if they can be so called—on the sides and at the summit of the architectural construction and a late-Dvaravatl stele found in Sung Noen district (above, p. 119). This architectural construction, finally, is reminiscent of the Phra Barommathat at Chaiya (above, p. 93 and fig. 15a). It would appear, therefore, in the light of these manifold relationships, that Haripunjaya art incorporated various of the Dvaravati traditions.
Dvaravati sources alone cannot account for the nature of Haripunjaya art. There were also contacts with two distinct parts of Burma, the kingdom of Pagan (about 400 kilometers to the northwest) and the sites of the Mon kingdom, Pegu and Thaton (about 200 kilometers to the southwest). The monuments of Pagan have been studied, and their chronology is pretty well understood; at Pegu and Thaton, on the other hand, and at probably other sites in the region as well, much presumably lies undiscovered. This point was driven home by the appearance on the art market in the 1980s of both stuccos and small gold repousse plaques, possibly from around Thaton.
If the narrative sequence given in the Jinakalamali is correct, then Haripunjaya history was punctuated by the following events: (1) evacuation to Thaton (Sudhammanagara), due to cholera; (2) removal of the population to Pegu (Hamsavati), as a consequence of an invasion from Pagan; (3) the reign of King Ditta, who led an assault on Lopburi and returned defeated, but following a Lopburi invasion, built a monument called the Mahabalacetiya, using defeated Lopburi warriors as craftsmen; the reigns of (4) King Adicca (founder of the Great Reliquary chedi, the stupa at Wat Phra That Haripunjaya), of (5) King Dhammika, who established an eighteen-cubit image of the Buddha (a giant image, equivalent in height, it was thought, to the actual height of the Buddha), and (two reigns later) of (6) King Sabbasiddhi; (7) then following Sabbasiddhi, twelve more monarchs— none of whom is recorded as having made a religious foundation— before the seizure of the city by the Thai warrior King Mang Rai in 1281. The actual dates given in the Jinakalamali cannot be relied upon, but evidence from an inscription (L. Ph. 2) has led to the supposition that Sabbasiddhi was ruling in 1218.
A group of Mon-language inscriptions evidently dates from Sab- basiddhi’s reign, and there is just a handful of earlier inscriptions. Considered as the oldest are three brief ones on terracotta tablets (pl. 60A). Another early Mon inscription, on a small stone stele (Ch. M. 45) has nine brief lines recording a religious foundation, and a somewhat later inscription (L. Ph. 36), in Pali, mentions King Dhammika. Each of the three early tablets is inscribed in Mon with the name of an arahant, respectively Pindola, Bhaddiya, and Jotiya. On his tablet (pl. 60A), Jotiya has a broad, rounded face, and the halo around his head has an inner border of knobs—a feature seen at Pagan and at the pyramid at Wat Ku Kut (pl. 57).
Chedi Ku Kut (pls. 57 and 60B; fig. 20), as it is called, is a pyramid with niches on five upper stories, three abreast on each face. (An octagonal monument stands nearby.) Each niche holds a standing Buddha, his right hand on the chest, his left at his side. The total number of Buddhas is sixty. Perhaps seated images were once placed around the base, one facing each direction. The monument is constructed of blocks of laterite used as bricks—a technique found earlier in Dvaravatl sites at Phong Tuk and U Thong. Some outside influence must account for the pyramidal form, possible sources being Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka and Nagapattinam on the southeastern coast of India, where somewhat similar pyramids stand or once stood. At the same time, Chedi Ku Kut may also have something to do with the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya, at least conceptually: the corner towers at Pagan’s Mahabodhi temple have somewhat similar niches, and, in a ca. nineteenth-century northern Thai manuscript, the Mahabodhi temple is shown as a pyramid.
The niches are surmounted by trefoil arches (compare pls. 38B and 68A) that bear foliation somewhat reminiscent of ornament in the stucco lintel at the Mahathat, Lopburi (pl. 50B). Within these leaves are human or humanoid figures—a motif found at Angkor at Thommanon, a temple that can be situated in Suryavarman II’s reign (1113-after 1150). The terminating makaras are also related to those in Khmer art. These connections in style and motif point to a period of construction well before the time of Jayavarman VII. An interesting bronze of Khmer type helps confirm the exchange of motifs in a period prior to the late twelfth century: beside a standing crowned Buddha in double vitarka are pillars that have intermediate moldings like those at Chedi Kfi Kut and support an undulant arch surmounted by leaves containing prancing figures. The Buddha images in the niches at Chedi Kfi Kut, all of stucco, show evidence of refurbishment over the centuries; it is not impossible that the faces (pl. 60B) were originally akin to that on the Jotiya tablet (pl. 60A). It has also been proposed that originally the arms performed a double vitarka-mudra.
These observations about Khmer elements at Chedi Kfi Kut would tend to confirm the identification of the monument as the Mahabala- cetiya built by the defeated Lopburi warriors at the command of King Ditta. The Jinakalamali might be referring to the imperial troops of Suryavarman II, to the army of an independent Lopburi in the third quarter of the twelfth century, or—with somewhat less likelihood—to the troops ofJayavarman VII.
If the votive tablet is an example of Haripunjaya art from the period before Chedi Kfi Kut, it is a work that cannot be easily reconciled, from the stylistic point of view, with another, for which there are also good reasons for supposing to date from the eleventh-twelfth century. This is the terracotta standing Buddha in pl. 58. In this hand-modeled figure, presumably intended for a niche on a pyramidal monument resembling Chedi Kfi Kut, the boldly-incised eyes are wide-open, broad eyebrows cross the bridge of the nose. The modeling recalls the folksy vigor of terracottas at Pagan’s Hpetleik pagodas, so much so that there must either be a direct connection or hardly more than a single missing link. The Pagan terracottas have been dated to the eleventh century, a dating that would appear to push back pl. 58 as well. Perhaps, in fact, the Pagan reliefs are later and somewhat intrusive; if such is the case, there could still be a close connection between the terracottas at the two sites, but the Haripunjaya terracotta figure would postdate rather than predate Chedi Kfi Kut.
The metal repousse figure illustrated in pl. 59 has much of the same vigor observed in the terracotta: the bold curves of the eyebrows, eyes, mustache, and lips reveal comparable concerns, and the two works cannot lie far apart in date. In the metal figure, however, the right hand, with thumb and forefinger nearly touching, is held in front of the chest, and the left hand, simply and flaccidly modeled, hangs down at the side. The pose is a reflection of a well-known eleventh-century Pagan type, where it characterizes flanking Buddhas on votive tablets (pl. 56 is a variant of some complexity. The repousse Buddha is also crowned, with a diadem bearing triangular elements of a Pala type. A very similar crown characterizes a Haripunjaya terracotta head of the Buddha. Perhaps the crown, in a repousse figure such as this, connotes themes of replication and identity of essence: the crown, in other words, is a sign that Buddhas are essentially indistinguishable, one from the other, and that to become a Buddha is to become identical to all Buddhas past and future.
The left hands of the stucco Buddhas at Chedi Ku Kut (pl. 57) hang in a way reminiscent of that seen in the repousse figure. Piriya Krairiksh proposed that the posture of the Buddhas was altered in a period somewhat later than the foundation of the monument, and so perhaps the hands of the Buddhas on the monument date from the same time as the repousse plaque. An inscription of King Sab- basiddhi (L. Ph. 2), found at Wat Ku Kut, describes the restoration of a ratanacetiya following an earthquake, possibly in 1218. Unfortunately, there are too many uncertainties—in regard to date, the identification of the ratanacetiya, and the extent of restoration—to allow this to become a fixed point in Haripunjaya art history.
There are other inscriptions that date from the same period. It has been proposed that some of these were paired, one inscription being King Sabbasiddhi’s, the other that of a high-ranking monk called the tju mahathera. One inscription that might permit the dating of artifacts was found at Wat Mahawan (L. Ph. 3) and mentions a structure identifiable as a pyramid. A terracotta head of the Buddha from Wat Mahawan appears in pl. 61A. This is a mold-formed head; it refines and gives an elegant grace to the vigorous curves of the hand-modeled Buddha in pl. 58. There are a fair number of heads with rather similar characteristics. Some of these contained stepped pyramids with niches that called for the production of similar figures in varying sizes, a production achieved relatively easily through the use of molds.
From Sabbasiddhi’s time until the seizure of the city by the Thai warrior King Mang Rai in 1281, another twelve monarchs ruled, but the Jinakalamali provides no information about foundations, nor are there any inscriptions that appear to date from this period. Workshops must have remained active because in 1288, Chedi Kfi Kham, a sixty-niche pyramid along the order of Chedi Kfi Kut, was built in the enclave of Wiang Kum Kam. In this area, a fragmentary inscription, partly in Mon, partly in Thai, suggests that significant cultural exchange took place in the late thirteenth century, between the established Mon Buddhists of Haripunjaya and the predominantly animist Thais.
Something of the direction taken by Haripunjaya sculpture is suggested by the bronze head illustrated in pl. 61B. Here is subtle restraint and benign calm strengthened by the sharpness of the small pointed curls. This head may have been made in the first half of the fourteenth century, after the spread of the flame ketumala, possibly somewhat earlier. Perhaps only after the 1281 Thai conquest was bronze-casting much practiced at Haripunjaya, and presumably Haripunjaya-like stylistic traits spread south as a consequence of the links among the new Thai kingdoms.
Sukhothai. Art of Thailand
It was in Sukhothai that the most famous (if not the earliest) Thai- language inscription was set up in A. D. 1292 or shortly thereafter, and for a brief period around 1300 the city was a great political power in Siam. Somewhat later, in the middle decades of the fourteenth century, it became the center for the artistic innovations that are now looked upon as supreme accomplishments—accomplishments that lie beyond the scope of this book. In the creation of what is known as the Sukhothai style, the key factors were Sri Lanka, the Mon territories of Lower Burma, and local tendencies. If there was a touchstone that helped prompt the developments of the fourteenth century, it might have been a work like those represented by the votive tablet and bronze seen in pls. 38B and 39A, with some elements taken from Pala India, others possibly from southern India. If this sea-shift had not occurred, the Buddhist art of Sukhothai would have remained in character predominantly Khmer, with certain Mon elements added.
Ram Khamhaeng’s inscription (Th. 1) and other inscriptions of Sukhothai present a principality that was an outpost of the Cambodian empire before it became politically independent and ethnically Thai sometime in the middle decades of the thirteenth century. The beginnings of civilization in the Sukhothai region are still obscure: Dvaravatl settlement may yet be established or the significance of a tenth- century Khmer inscription revealed (K. 992). A lintel discovered at Wat Si Sawai depicting the reclining Visnu has suggested provincial Khmer activity in the period around A. D. 1100, but in the absence of confirming evidence, it might be regarded as a later import.
Among the Buddhist bronzes found at Wat Phra Phai Luang and Wat Mahathat are ones that may belong to the first half of the twelfth century, and a female torso of Angkor Wat style was found in the region. The oldest building is the laterite shrine known as San Ta Pha D£ng, for which a date within the reign of Suryavarman II has been proposed, and the form of which can be tied to the Phimai architectural tradition. Three image bases aligned inside suggest that here once stood a triad of some sort. A head of Avalo- kitesvara found at Sukhothai bears rosettes in the crown—a late Angkor Wat-period characteristic—and the sprightly facial modeling makes a date any later than the very early Bayon period improba- ble. On account of both its style and its material the head is unlikely to be a local product. Perhaps it was brought to Sukhothai very early in the Jayavarman VII period, when imperial power was asserted.
Angkorian control in the region during the reign of Jayavarman VII is evidenced by the laterite sanctuary of Chao Chan, Chaliang and by a fragmentary statue of a meditating figure that is similar in certain respects to the images identified as portrait images of Jaya- varman VII. It is probable that the laterite towers at Wat Phra Phai Luang (where the meditating figure was discovered) were erected by the local administrator in the Jayavarman VII period; at the still- standing northern tower (pls. 64 and 65A) appear Bayon-type intermediate cornices at the height of the pediments, and the western pediment. There is no specific evidence that the Wat Phra Phai Luang towers were intended to house images of Jayavarman’s Mahayana triad, but the presumption is a reasonable one.
Ram Khamhaeng came to the throne in or near 1279. These regnal shifts allow various objects and remains that appear to date from the thirteenth century to fall into one of three periods—those of Jayavarman VII’s immediate successor or successors, of Sri Indraditya, and of Ram Khamhaeng. The works include sculptures associated with San Ta Pha D£ng, architectural remains at Wat Phra Phai Luang, a group of steles or Buddhist boundary stones (pl. 62), two laterite pyramids (at Wat K§n L£ng, pl. 65B, and Wat Mahathat), the gate at the Mahathat, Chaliang (pl. 66), and various bronzes (pl. 63). By and large what this body of works reveals is an independence from the workshops of Lopburi and a close connection with Angkor, on one hand, and with traditions stemming from northeastern Thailand— whether Mon, Khmer, or Thai—on the other.
Five stone torsos found at the site of San Ta Pha D£ng are usually dated—like the shrine itself—to the twelfth century, but they may in fact be later. The grayish sandstone from which they are carved suggests that they may not have been local products; they also resist identification (perhaps they were idealized donor portraits). Stylistic features like the slenderness of the legs, it has been argued, suggest a date before the impact of the Bayon style. A male figure is garbed like some Bayon-style dvarapalas. But the stronger stylistic ties may in fact be with Angkorian sculpture of the thirteenth century, as found at Preah Pithu. Maybe the connection was one effected in the Sri Indraditya period. That is also likely to be the case—as has been argued on somewhat stronger grounds—with the rows of stupas that flank the columned wihan at Wat Phra Phai Luang (pl. 65A); these stupas, which have a waisted profile and have no harmika, echo in form and configurations those at Angkor’s Tep Pranam terrace (figs. 21a, 21b).
Two steles (pl. 62) are carved from one or another variety of metamorphic rock in the phyllite-slate category and may be considered local products. As types of object the steles can also be associated with the one in Suphanburi (pl. 52), which may date back to the early twelfth century. There may also be connections with older four-faced Mahayana steles. One carved in the Northeast in about the second half of the tenth century has arch terminants with undu- lant tips that could have grown into those in pl. 62A, and its flattened, undecorated leaves could have been a model for those in pl. 62B. In the stele with the crowned Buddha, the leaves have been lightened through incision with a drill (a technique that recalls Phimai). The crown is composed of triangular elements like those in the Haripunjaya repousse Buddha (pl. 59), and ultimately Pala in derivation, but they treated in an idiosyncratic manner. Above the frame is a stylized Bodhi tree, a subject seen much earlier (pl. 4), but found also on objects that are likely to be contemporary (pl. 83).
The second stele (pl. 62B) belongs to a group found at Wat Phra Phai Luang and presumably formed part of a set of boundary stones.
According with twelfth-century custom is the unclothed upper torso, without indications of the Buddha’s robes. The tiered usnisa suggests a date no earlier than the Jayavarman VII period. Yet a date in the mid-thirteenth century is more probable. Although there are some points of connection with Bayon-style sculpture further south, as in the handling of the face, what calls for comment is the absence of such steles in the lower plains.
The crowned Buddha stele (pl. 62A) is evidence of the presence of Ariya Buddhism, and there is some archaeological evidence for an interest in triads, another Ariya Buddhist subject. A group of buildings constructed for the most part with large, irregularly sized laterite blocks, in the Bayon-style manner, should be dated to the thirteenth century. One chapel, to the west of the southern tower (pl. 65A, lower left) can be identified as an ordination hall (bot) because of the presence of boundary stones; the other, a wihan, in the northeast corner of the compound (pl. 65A, above the pyramid) has a wide altar upon which three Buddha images of equal size once stood. At Wat Mahathat, two laterite shrines north and south of the innermost wihan suggest the adoption of the Ariya theme of flanking images. Probably these two shrines are the Buddhasala and the Sala Brah Masa (sala of the Lord Gold) mentioned in Ram Khamhaeng’s inscription. It is not known, however, what may have originally stood directly between them at the site now of the wihan. Another terrace of the same period is that of the bot at Wat Aranyik.
One architectural type of considerable importance has no necessary relationship to Ariya beliefs. This is the stepped pyramid. The importance of the type was demonstrated by Betty Gosling, who proposed that the oldest pyramid was the one at Wat K§n L£ng (pl. 65B), the next oldest the one underlying the lotus-bud tower at the Mahathat. The somewhat irregular blocks of laterite suggest that the Wat Kpn L£ng pyramid could have been erected close in time to that of the structures just discussed. At this pyramid, the increasing height of the upper stories makes for a powerful rhythmical climax, which the double staircase reinforces as it provides room for some solitary ritual action. What was the function of such a pyramid? The vague similarities with older Khmer pyramids and with surviving pyramidal that or stupas in Luang Prabang suggest that here is a form adopted by Thai on the upper Mekong as they encountered Khmer civilization at some earlier period, perhaps around the tenth century. The pyramids may have had a funerary function—either as actual cremation towers or as catalalques for lying- in-state, or both. The transformation of the Mahathat pyramid into a tower for a relic of the Buddha in the 1340s would merely have strengthened an ancient and widespread connection between the stupa and death rites.
In 1996, on the other hand, Gosling proposed that the Wat Kpn L£ng pyramid was actually the “Phra Khaphyng,” a site south of the city, according to Ram Khamhaeng’s inscription, at which a territorial spirit was propitiated. Such a stepped artificial mountain honoring a “god of the soil,” she argued, has parallels in China. An interpretation along these lines strengthens the attribution to the early Thai period, in the reign of Sri Indraditya.
An inscription of 1219 from Wat Bang Sanuk in Phrae province (about 100 kilometers up the Yom River from Sukhothai), it was recognized in 1996, must be the earliest known Thai-language inscription (Th. 107). This inscription records donations to a monastery, including the stamping of 11,108 votive tablets and the breaking of laterite to create a structure that was then covered with stucco. The site has not been identified archaeologically, but there is the possibility that the laterite structure was a pyramid rather than merely a chedi.
Ram Khamhaeng also established khadan hin, “stone slab(s),” as a site for authoritative speech, both on the part of monks and the king himself. The khadan hin was identified by Credes as a stone platform preserved in the Royal Palace in Bangkok, carved on the sides with a design—stylized lotus petals composed of flattened undulant elements—that is stylistically appropriate for the late thirteenth century (fig. 22a). The type of stone matches that of Ram Khamhaeng’s inscription. The inscription names the slab the manansilapatra, “stone vessel of the mind” or “the place Manosila in vessel form.” Manosila is a mythical spot in the Himalayas, in Buddhist scriptures a place where, among other things, a lion roars the doctrine.
Ram Khamhaeng can be seen in various lights: as a pre-Buddhist ur-Tai; as follower only of the Buddhism of his patriarch (sangharaja) from Nakhon Si Thammarat, whom he installed at the Monastery of the Forest-Dwelling Monks (Arannika, today Wat Saphan Hin) on a hill west of the city; in the North and with places such as Martaban in Burma, as Thai and Burmese chronicles relate. King Ram Khamhaeng’s concerns with social welfare, for instance, can be understood both in terms of ancient Tai political traditions and as an adoption of the utopian Buddhist visions of the Burmese king Kyanzittha.
Among the other works identifiable in the inscription, two are especially worthy of note. One is the stone wall surrounding the Mahathat at Chaliang, established in 1285; the other is the mention of two eighteen-cubit (attharasa) images at sites identified as Wat Saphan Hin and the Mahathat. The massive gate at the entrance to a monument where the king installed relics has a pillared summit angled defensively toward the intermediate directions (pl. 66). It was possibly restored in the sixteenth century, but if its original decoration was close to that visible today, it demonstrates the persistence of a tradition of stucco modeling and of an imagery that must be related in some way to that of the Angkor Thom gates, presenting a cosmological hierarchy consisting, from bottom to top, of yaksas, heavenly dancers, either regents of space or figures of Indra, and the four faces of a being in the Brahma heavens.
The Jinakalamali—as stated above—says that King Dhammika of Haripunjaya erected an eighteen-cubit image, and though the mention could be anachronistic the concept may have reached Sukhothai from the North. Ram Khamhaeng’s eighteen-cubit images were subsequently restored, but there seems to have been an appropriate pose, that of the Buddha with right forearm extended, palm flat, “forbidding the relatives” from fighting with each other in the nineteenth-century terminology (ham yat). This pose can be seen in bronzes associated with Sukhothai. The first (pl. 63A) was excavated at Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai and can be attributed to the Sri Indraditya period. The soft, manipulative modeling of the face recalls qualities of one (pl. 62B) of the two stone steles, while the ornamented border between forehead and hair is a motif that has connections with the treatment of the lower edge of the diadem in the other stele, with crowned Buddha (pl. 62A). The flair of the lower outside edges of the robe echoes the profiles of a number of twelfth-century crowned Buddhas performing a double gesture. As an iconographic type, this image is a descendant of the much earlier ones found in bronze (pl. 36B) and in stone at Wat Php Ta (pl. 36A). Here, however, the left hand is turned in a three-quarter view, in front of the robe, as if an accommodation were being made between the older type and the Haripunjaya style (pl. 59). The second image (pl. 63B), part of a collection formed by an abbot in nearby Sawankhalok, has a rounded usnisa and simple open eyes, connecting it with the stele with crowned Buddha (pl. 62A). The designs on the right palm and at the center of the belt echo Khmer styles. The facial type—a little bland—is not dissimilar to that seen in the Brahma faces on the gate (pl. 66). In contrast to the face of the bronze considered earlier (pl. 63A), there is a suppression of individual character and a striving for a polished benign smoothness. Something of a similar character can also be observed in the fourteenth-century Haripunjaya bronze head, pl. 61B. Art of Thailand
Such bronze images would appear to show that Ram Khamhaeng, when setting up his eighteen-cubit images, called upon an icono- graphic type that already been established in Sukhothai for some decades and that furthermore—on the evidence of the Wat Ph§ Ta relief (pl. 36A)—may have been known to and adopted by Thai speakers on the upper Mekhong before their arrival in Sukhothai. Perhaps the type had, therefore, a history somewhat like that of the stepped pyramid.
This section is illustrated with just a few works (pls. 67-69), and, indeed, the number of objects produced on the peninsula in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was not large. Two of the objects can be associated with the Nakhon Si Thammarat region, two with Chaiya. It is easier to point out the Burmese and Khmer elements in these objects than it is to elucidate the regional characteristics.
The Sukhothai inscriptions—it has been seen—permit the shift to Thai dominance to be connected to specific historial events. The chronicles of Nakhon Si Thammarat, which contain legends based on events of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, do say that Srl Saiyanaranga—an Indicized name for Phra Ruang, “lord dawn,” a name also given to Ram Khamhaeng—captured the city in a year equivalent to A. D. 1274 and that his brother became ruler. But it is not clear how much credit can be given to such a statement, and the general impression given by the legends is one in which the paramadhatu—the reliquary or stupa of Nakhon Si Thammarat—holds the central position, as society intermittently collapses and kings from elsewhere—Burma, Cambodia—enter the scene for a few brief moments.
At Sathing Phra, the archaeological record shows, there was a long period of prosperity, lasting without indications of disturbance from the second half of the ninth century to the late thirteenth. Economically speaking, the eleventh century appears to have been a high point, when quantities of fine earthenware kendis were made for export. Throughout this period, the excavator, Janice Stargardt, concluded, the Mon indigenes were ruled by elites whose cultural ties initially were with central Java, subsequently with southern Sumatra. The sort of object that demonstrate these connections is frequently indeterminately “Snvijayan”—so far unyielding in regard to the nature of site-specific styles. An example is a Sathing Phra bronze figure of a dancing Tantric deity, presumably a member, like the related East Javanese bronzes of Nganjuk, of an esoteric Buddhist mandala. At other sites on the peninsula have been found objects with Pala connections; from Khuha Phimuk Cave in Yala province, south of Sathing Phra, for instance, comes a Pala bronze votive stupa, probably of the tenth century.
Whether sites further north, when pinpointed and excavated, will disclose so long a period of uninterrupted prosperity is another matter. At Laem Pho, a port for the ancient city of Chaiya, shards of Chinese
ceramics ceased to accumulate at about the end of the T’ang dynasty, (after a period of more than a century?). Sung shards have been found elsewhere in Chaiya. Among the outside intruders in the later centuries were the Cholas. In the mid-1020s King Rajendra carried out a raid, he claimed, that struck cities on the peninsula. Evidence of a Chola presence—probably as a result of somewhat less militaristic commercial endeavors—is presented by an inscription found at Nakhon Si Thammarat and by a Surya image at Chaiya. Whereas the earlier commercial penetration that left behind the Takua Pa sculptures (above, p. 112) had little or no noticeable cultural impact, echoes of the modeling of the Chaiya Surya—especially its big round shoulders—can be found in later Buddhist sculpture. At the same time, a small bronze Sri Lankan Buddha image found at Sathing Phra suggests that such features could have spread entirely through the medium of Buddhist art.
According to the analysis of Kenneth R. Hall, in the second half of the eleventh century, Chola interest and support shifted southward to Kedah from the west-coast port in the Takua Pa-Ko Kho Khao area (more or less across the isthmus from Chaiya). This shift was accompanied by an increased Burmese role in the affairs of the northern part of the peninsula. The Burmese king Narapatisithu (r. 1173-1210) claimed in 1196-98 to rule beyond Takua Pa, as far south as a city ending in -nagara. The chronicles of Nakhon Si Thammarat retain a memory of a King Narapatlrajaraja, in an episode with an associated date of A. D. 1176, and so it may be that there was a southward push, if not necessarily the first, during his reign. A Mon-language inscription found at Nakhon Si Thammarat—perhaps, but not necessarily a reflection of Burmese influence—has been dated to about the thirteenth century (N. S. 2). It mentions a pair of nagas, or possibly an object decorated with a pair of nagas.
The metal tablet illustrated in pl. 68B was probably made in the early fifteenth century, not long before it was deposited at Wat Ratcha- burana in Ayutthaya, but it is a faithful copy of an older type of ceramic tablet found in Nakhon Si Thammarat and further south. The give-away Burmese elements are the attendant figures in their lobed and be-gemmed frames: they are Brahma, on the left, holding a parasol, and Indra, on the right, blowing a conch. The two gods— as depicted at Pagan—visit the Buddha shortly before his enlightenment. The Buddha’s legs are crossed in vajrasana, his right hand is placed on his knee, and his bodily proportions are squat. Compared to Buddha types that had some international currency, those seen within Pala-type frames, as on the votive tablets in pls. 38B and 68A, this figure of the Buddha appears to belong to a different physical family, or to obey a whole different set of proportional rules. Tracing the lineage backward is no easy task, although there is likely to be a connection with works associated with the spread of Bengali influences in the late eighth and the ninth centuries. The Buddha- type is, in turn, the progenitor for what became known in Nakhon Si Thammarat (and elsewhere) as the “Sihing” Buddha, a cult image of later centuries.
The standing Buddha in pl. 67, a bronze image preserved at the Phra Barommathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, shares with the Buddha of the tablets a small number of not insignificant features—especially a rounded face and a smoothly projecting chest. A date in the eleventh or twelfth century (or perhaps the tenth) is likely. There are fewer elements in this image than in the tablets to provide a connection with Burma: the lozenges with pearl-petalled rosettes might be compared with motifs in eleventh-century murals at Pagan, and the footed pedestal with two sequential projections evokes the powerful influences from Pala India upon Pagan. The double vitarka is a Dvaravati-like feature, and the aureole has sources in T’ang Chinese Buddhist images, implying that here is either a copy of some much older, now-lost image or the tail-end of a buried tradition. Suggesting a maintenance of the peninsular links to Cham culture that had been observed in an earlier period are other elements, such as the cloth panel between the legs of the pedestal’s splayed-legged yaksa (evidently standing for Mara’s army) and the scrollwork that rises from the pedestal left and right. At the same time, these foliate motifs are somewhat similar in character to patterns on an unusual stone lintel-like architectural element found in Sichon district. In both cases the roots would lie in carved wooden architectural elements. As the bronze image came from neighboring Tha Sala district, there was probably a significant urban center still active in the Sichon-Tha Sala area when the two works were made.
The strongest stylistic elements in the bronze sculpture known as the Buddha of Grahi (pl. 69) have a Burmese character, yet the image has many Cambodian features, and it bears a Khmer-language inscription on the base. Links to Cambodia were an important aspect of peninsular culture, just as had been the case in earlier centuries. A striking bronze image of the eleven-headed Lokesvara, Khmer in style, for instance, was found in Songkhla and has been dated to the late tenth century. This bronze provides just a hint that Mahayana Buddhists in Cambodia and on the peninsula were in contact with one another at the time. A second bronze, a six-armed Prajnaparamita, this figure has reasonably been suggested to have been the product of a peninsular workshop (and would be one of the starting points in identifying local productions, even though it has no provenance), but its skirt is arranged in a Cambodian way. Another type of Buddhist image is traditionally associated with the South: this is the bronze standing Buddha, right palm raised and left lowered—a tenth-century Khmer adaptation of a late Dvaravatl iconographic type. Such images were undoubtedly made elsewhere in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, however, and were not necessarily a southern invention. This Buddhist exchange between the peninsula and Cambodia in the tenth and eleventh centuries could may well have been responsible for the introduction of Phimai’s Tantric Buddhism, quite independent of any political interaction.
This Chinese evidence indicates that Grahi, around the 1180s (more or less the period in which there might also have been a Burmese incursion into the peninsula), owed its allegiance either to Cambodia or to Snvijaya. If it were not for certain characteristics of the sculpture upon which it is placed, the Buddha of Grahi inscription could be said to reflect these various forces well (pl. 69). This text, inscribed on the base in Khmer, says the work was established by the ruler of Grahi (Th. 25). The year, says the inscription, was 11004 or 11005 (presumably recording a spoken “eleven hundred four” [or five]). The date is usually given as A. D. 1183 (1105 + 78), since the inscription adds that it was a year of the hare, which 1183 was. Pierre Dupont doubted that the Buddha image could be as old as that, and partly in response to this doubt, J. G. de Casparis pointed out that the maharaja who ordered the senapati or military governor of Grahi to establish the image had a name close to that of a king ruling in Sumatra in 1286. Therefore, perhaps the number 11004 should be disregarded altogether, the two names taken as one-in-the same maharaja, and the naga and the Buddha taken as contemporary. From the political point of view either seems possible. Although Grahi lay in a border area, both the statements of Chao Ju-kua and the apparently long period of Snvijayan overlordship at Sathing Phra make plausible the authority of a Sumatran king in Grahi either in 1183 or about a century later.
Unfortunately, art history cannot settle the controversy. One by one relevant pre-1183 sources for nearly all the traits can be identified. The iconography is first encountered in a bronze of about the eleventh century, one that appears to have connections with either the art of the peninsula or with lower Burma, because of the big round shoul- ders. A handful of other such images can be placed in the period between the two great kings Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII. Perhaps the enlightenment has been joined to the sheltering episode of one of the following weeks, or perhaps the naga is primarily a container, standing for transformative powers (as suggested above, p. 152) or for a quality such as masculine energy. The style of the hood is based upon that of a Khmer-style bronze like the naga- protected Buddha in Cleveland, said to have been found in Surin province, and dating from about the third quarter of the twelfth century. It is true that the elaborateness of the mat upon which the Buddha sits exceeds that of most images of the period, but it can be understood as a variation upon the design in the approximately contemporary pl. 55, where the legs are similarly angled and medallions decorate the center and corners of the border directly beneath the Buddha’s legs. This bronze image, judging on the basis of a fragmentary stone image preserved at Nakhon Pathom, might be a product of the Nakhon Pathom-Suphanburi region. For the pleated shawl, there are various possible sources, among them the Jhewari bronzes from the northernmost part of the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. The bulge at the waist and the spreading, fanlike torso, so different from the Khmer in sensibility, are somewhat reminiscent of Dvaravatl modeling, can be seen in the votive tablet of pl. 68A, and are matched in bronzes from lower Burma. They also help account for the fleshiness of the hand, though this is not without connections to the nearby earlier stucco Buddhas in the Khuha Sawan Cave. The flat, layered, and cut-out quality of the ornament on the coils and the back of the hood have parallels of a general sort in the early art of Pagan. The Buddha of Grahi would appear to be a copy of an image type established in central Siam in the third quarter of the twelfth century, one that spread to Grahi at that time; the craftsman who made the image, on the other hand, had been trained in some other tradition, one with stronger ties to Burma.
At the same time, this picture of a plausible situation does not demonstrate the impossibility of a considerably later date for the Grahi. Far from it. If the image dates from the later thirteenth century rather than from 1183, however, its historical position is rather different, and such features as the modeling of the torso and of the right hand would have to be seen no longer as prototypes for forms that characterize certain images made in central Siam in the second half of the thirteenth century, but simply as parallel instances. If there existed a sequence of works from Chaiya into which the Buddha of Grahi could be tightly inserted, the chronological variables would not be so great. There are too few objects, which are themselves controversial. Looming over the Buddhist sculpture of Chaiya, for instance, is a sandstone image of the meditating Buddha, probably of the seventh century. A later sandstone head was recognized as having affinities with the Buddha of Grahi by Dupont; Piriya Krairksh has dated it to the late eleventh or early twelfth century, Prince Sutbhadradis to the eighth or ninth.
Judging from historical sources, the thirteenth century was marked by the rise to prominence of Nakhon Si Thammarat, or of its predecessor Tambralinga. Tambralinga was the state responsible for an inscription of A. D. 1230 (Th. 24) and for invasions of Sri Lanka which Sinhalese sources date to 1247 and about 1260. Very probably in the thirteenth century there was still considerable activity at an urban center in Sichon or Tha Sala districts along the coast north of present-day Nakhon Si Thammarat, in an area rich in remains from a considerably earlier period (above, p. 48-49). Tambralinga may have stood here. There are also sites closer to Nakhon, however, that appear to have been active in these centuries. Tambra- linga’s involvement with Sri Lanka, culminating with the legendary arrival of the “Sihing” Buddha in the time of Ram Khamhaeng, may well explain the general absence of Ariya Buddhist traits in the region. Nakhon Si Thammarat was properly Sri Lankan Theravadin before the rest of Siam, and it provided Ram Khamhaeng’s Buddhist patriarch.
Chao Ju-kua names other principalities further south. One of these must be Sathing Phra. He also describes Langkasuka, traditionally placed in the Pattani region (p. 62 above). According to the archaeological evidence from Sathing Phra, economic decline was setting in at about this time; population was decreasing, and the canals were allowed to silt up. At about the end of the thirteenth century, concluded Janice Stargardt, there was an outside invasion, followed by a short period in which the Srlvijayan aspects of the elite culture were replaced by something more Mon. Finally, around 1340 or before, there was another invasion and the city was abandoned.
These two incursions correspond roughly to statements in Chinese sources that in 1295 the people of the state of Hsien or Siam (see below, p. 227) and of Malayur had long been killing each other, and that shortly before 1332 there were attacks from the same quarters upon the Singapore area.
Remaining in Chaiya is a group of sandstone images of the standing Buddha, some with the right forearm extended, some with the left. One appears in pl. 68C. The revival of the hand-gesturing- at-the-side pose, it was argued in the previous section, dates from the second half of the thirteenth century and can be related to speakers of Thai. Compared to the Grahi Buddha, there is in pl. 68C a looseness of facial structure and an absence of tautness; these qualities, exemplified by the broad and kindly mouth, suggest the impact of Bayon-style sculpture. Some aspects of the arrangement of the robe are paralleled in later Lopburi sculpture of the central plains, from about the second half of the thirteenth century. If this image belongs to the late thirteenth century, the Grahi is surely older. Still, the face exhibits a persistence of some of the older Chaiya traditions, and the ornament in front of the Buddha’s usnlsa is a variant upon the one seen on the Buddha of Grahi.
Twelfth- and thirteenth-century peninsular architecture is equally difficult to trace. The key form of the period is the stupa with the cruciform base. An excavated example appears to be at Wat Laong, Chaiya, where the design of the lower part is in the tradition of the basement of Wat K£o (above, p. 113). The related stupa at Wat Sathing Phra must have been established before the destruction of the city in the first half of the fourteenth century. A third example, at the Phra Barommathat, Nakhon Si Thammarat, has long been recognized as the probable replica of the original stupa (fig. 21d), constructed when the present stupa was built in the thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth century. The date of the original foundation is not known, but the artifacts found at Phra Wiang and Tha Rua suggest that it was not earlier than the eleventh century. As for the form of the surviving stupa, it is not clear whether it should be ascribed entirely to the fourteenth or fifteenth century or merely to a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century rebuilding of an intermediate-period monument. At any rate, the corner (or rattana-) chedi at the extant stupa (fig. 21c) have square bases which, with their moldings and niches, both formally and typologically hark back to earlier traditions.
This survey of the peninsula has identified developments which had an impact elsewhere: a Mahayana Buddhist art in the tenth and eleventh centuries, for instance, and the presence of stylistic features of a vaguely Burmese sort in the twelfth century, as reflected in the Buddha of Grahi (if this is considered as dating from A. D. 1183). There are aspects of culture that suggest continuity, both with the past and with the developments of later centuries—as in the sculpture of Chaiya and in architecture. There are other aspects that have more the quality of final moments. The Buddha image from Tha Sala district (pl. 67) might be seen as such a final moment, in that it seems to sum up, and had little influence. Yet the Buddha type seen in pl. 68B—considered a kind of companion piece here— with right hand on the knee and legs in vajrasana had considerable progeny because it was the type preserved by the Buddha Sihing of Nakhon Si Thammarat. The peninsula in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as in earlier periods, maintained a composite and elusive identity, and at crucial moments it was the springboard for stylistic and iconographic features that subsequently became prominent elsewhere Art of Thailand.
Thanks primarily to the existence of two long dedicatory inscriptions, set up in 1186 and 1191 at the temples of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan at Angkor (K. 273, K. 908), there is a brief period of relative clarity in the political and ideological history of Cambodia. This contrasts with the situation in the third quarter of the twelfth century, in the years between the death of Suryavarman II and the Cham invasion of 1178 (or Jayavarman VII’s accession in 1181), as well as with the situation in the decades after 1191, when there is only a relative chronology, based almost entirely upon the study of monuments. The temple of Ta Prohm was dedicated to the monarch’s mother in the guise of the Buddhist goddess Prajnaparamita. Among the data the inscription provides is the existence within the kingdom of 102 hospitals (arogyasala, st. 117). The foundation of a number of these is recorded in a sequence of identical “hospital” inscriptions, also dating from 1186, found at sites as far north as Vientiane (K. 368). These inscriptions are dedicated to the healing Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru, whose cult is best known from Japanese evidence, and contain the famous line about how the king “felt the afflictions of his subjects more than his own, because the suffering of the people constitute the suffering of the king, more than his own suffering.” The Preah Khan inscription records the foundation of a substantial temple complex dedicated to the king’s father in the guise of the Bodhisattva Lokesvara. It also provides key information about developments in the provinces: that around the kingdom stood 121 “Houses of Fire,” and how twenty-three images named “Jayabuddha- mahanatha” were sent to various cities, some as far west as “Srljayava- jrapurl,” the modern Phetchaburi. In 1995, it was proposed that these images can be identified as the stone sculptures of Lokesvara to which adhere small figures of the Buddha, the “Lokesvara irra- diant.” They confirm that by 1191 a profound stylistic shift had taken place, in the direction of rounded contours and the expression of a fleshy humanity. Further confirmation of this shift is provided by a bronze finial now in the Cleveland Museum of Art (pl. 70A), perhaps made at Angkor, perhaps in the provinces. The Buddha is a representative of the new human type, and decorative details such as the C-scroll border on the support are matched almost exactly by a those on an inscribed mirror base presented by Jayavarman VII to a hospital in Buriram province in 1192 (K. 973). The new Buddha image type has features seen also in the central naga-protected Buddhas of the later (but not the earliest) bronze depictions of Jayavarman’s triad: the Buddha is uncrowned, his lids are lowered, and a robe covers one shoulder. This finial, of unknown function, provides evidence for an interest in the historical Buddha and the Maravijaya scene in the 1190s. It shows two members of Mara’s army and the earth goddess (Mother Dharam in the later Thai tradition) whose hair becomes a conduit for all the waters of the ocean, which create a flood and sweep Mara’s army away. This is a theme that might first have appeared in the early twelfth century.
The Bayon, the great monument at the center of Jayavarman’s city-within-a-city (Angkor Thom), was evidently established before 1191. To this time belong such diagnostic features as pediments having a standing figure of Lokesvara in the central position and sculptural groups depicting the naga-protected Buddha flanked by Lokesvara and Prajnaparamita. Many of these pediments were subsequently covered by subsequent construction, suggesting an ideological shift, but there are no inscriptions to reveal the nature of the new outlook. It has been argued that the decision to add additional sanctuaries surmounted by giant faces at the Bayon was the result of a change in religious beliefs. Initially just sixteen towers were planned, and the surmounting faces might have been those of “vajra beings” belonging to a Vajrayana that was viewed by Jayavarman as an esoteric but congruent counterpart to the values of his Lokesvara-Buddha- Prajnaparamita triad. The additional towers (which also changed a cruciform enclosing gallery system into a quadrangular one) can be viewed as reasons for believing that now the faces—in accordance with the traditional Cambodian view—represented the Brahmas of Buddhist cosmology’s Brahma heavens visiting the thirty-three gods of Indra’s heaven.
There is, furthermore, other evidence suggesting a shift in religious outlook before Jayavarman’s death. When George Credes published the inscriptions from the chapels (Prasat Chrung) at the four corners of Angkor Thom in 1952, he commented that they must be the last inscriptions of Jayavarman VII’s reign—the literary spirit that had animated the compositions from earlier in his rule, like those of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, was nearly extinguished, and it had at last become difficult for the authors to express praise with fresh figures of speech. Perhaps the Sanskrit pandits were dispirited because they were no longer held in such esteem. The Prasat Chrung monuments have the Lokesvara pediments and partially false balustraded windows characteristic of the second period of the Bayon style, but, according to Philippe Stern, the second period could not have advanced very far. This suggests that the Prasat Chrung inscriptions were composed not long after 1191, the date of Preah Khan. If so, Jayavarman had lost the will to command more such traditional inscriptions from his pandits long before his death.
Among still other indications of change are the fact that, decades later, Jayavarman was said to have had a chaplain from Burma, who might indeed have brought a shift in outlook (K. 405). At some point in time, the king underwent a ceremony, a kind of higher consecration known as an Indrabhiseka (according to a brief inscription in the outer gallery of reliefs at the Bayon)—a ceremony that conceivably had a Burmese origin. The portrait images ofJayavarman VII, which show him as a worshiper (a figure akin to those on the Burmese-style votive tablet, pl. 68A), suggest that towards the end of his life the king conceived of himself as an auditor of the Buddha, one who, in Burmese fashion, was privileged to hear a prediction as to when in the future Buddhahood might be achieved. If such is the case, then the earlier belief system—implying a union with the Buddha through a combination of wisdom and compassion—had been displaced by one characterized by a linear sense of past and future.
All of these shifts, however speculative they may be, are shifts away from the Mahayana Buddhism that inspired Jayavarman’s great monuments and toward a Art of Thailand Buddhism that has a more Hlnayana character. Did the changes take place before or after the king’s death?
It is thought that he was still alive in 1206 and may even been living in 1214—plenty of time for the views of the 1190s to have evolved.
Even if Jayavarman lived as long as once thought—until 1218— there is no question that work on the Bayon continued after his death. In 2000, archaeological evidence—in the form of shards of Chinese export wares—was published that indicates that construction was still going on in the fourteenth century, far longer than anyone had previously imagined. So little is known about events of the decades following Jayavarman’s death that the only reason even a name—Indravarman—can be given to Jayavarman’s successor is that he is briefly mentioned in an inscription that postdates 1295 (K. 567). Quite possibly the queens and princes remained on automatic pilot, adhering as best they could to what they considered the wishes of the deceased monarch. The changes at the Bayon included the creation of the additions that covered over the Lokesvara pediments, the enlargement of the central sanctuary by filling in between the original chapels, the building of a raised terrace around the central sanctuary, the squaring of the cruciform plan, thereby making an inner quadrangular gallery that became the setting for reliefs with scenes from Hindu myths; and at some point the turning of the Bayon into a Hindu temple—by carefully chiseling away hundreds and hundreds of images of the Buddha (not only at the Bayon but at the other temples of Jayavarman VII), smashing and throwing the principal image, a naga-protected Buddha, into a pit and putting a statue of Harihara in its place, sealing off the chapels containing Buddhist images and inscriptions, and blocking entrances to the outer gallery, with its scenes of the life of Jayavarman VII. Although sequences for all these changes have been proposed, the evidence consists of hard-to-interpret details. Following the death of Jayavarman VII and the reign of Indravarman, the next historical turning point is the succession in 1243 or soon thereafter ofJayavarman
VIII, who reigned until 1295. There is general agreement that the anti-Buddhist iconoclasm must date from Jayavarman VIII’s reign. It now seems probable that positive developments at the Bayon, such as the creation of the inner gallery of bas-reliefs, were his responsibility as well, as Claude Jacques proposed.
When Philippe Stern published his book on the Bayon-style monuments in 1965, he created three successive periods, culminating in a “third period—highly advanced,” in which were placed the royal terraces at Angkor. One reason why the shape of the thirteenth century has been so poorly understood—apart from the absence of inscriptions—is that a Theravada Buddhist sanctuary, Preah Palilay, and a group of nearby Hindu shrines, Preah Pithu, were long given earlier dates when they are in fact post-Bayon monuments. Preah Palilay and the Preah Pithu complex stand east and west of each other north of the palace compound in Angkor Thom. Preah Palilay is significant for this study because it must bear a relationship to an important structure in Lopburi, the Mahathat. Unless it postdates 1295, three different timespans can be proposed. It may shortly predate 1243, with some of the Preah Pithu structures falling shortly thereafter. The third possibility is that both Preah Palilay and Preah Pithu belong merely at one point or another in the long reign of Jayavarman VIII because what was under attack was not Buddhism in general but only the Mahayana Buddhism of Jayavarman VII. Perhaps the two complexes, both lying north of the palace compound at Angkor, bear a complementary relationship to each other.
Preah Palilay consists of a sanctuary elevated high upon three terraces; to the east stands a tripartite gopura. Scenes on pediments and lintels include the standing Buddha, uncrowned, his hands in double vitarka; the defeat of Mara, the taming of the elephant, and the parinirvana. On a pediment taken to Phnom Penh the Buddha’s right hand touches the earth, and the left hand may originally have held an ecclesiastical fan in front of the chest. The Buddha is attended by two worshipers who must be identified as Siva and Visnu (despite the lack of four arms). The Siva shares many characteristics with a free-standing bronze Siva discovered in Ayutthaya (pl. 85), who holds a rosary in his left hand, probably carried a trident in his right, and bears a distinctive coiffure seen at both Preah Palilay and Preah Pithu. If this bronze is of Angkorian manufacture, as seems possible, it indicates how the local sculptors were able to forge ahead in the aftermath of the Jayavarman period: by retaining large- scale jewelry and certain human qualities, but re-instituting in the face a more traditional configuration. Probably contemporary with Preah Palilay is the nearby Tep Pranam terrace (fig. 21b); its possible connection with Wat Phra Phai Luang in Sukhothai (pl. 65A), on account of the similarly placed stupas, has already been mentioned (p. 181).
Developments in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries include the construction of the small Visnuite temple of Mangalartha, established by Jayavarman VIII in A. D. 1295. Pali, the language of the Theravada scriptures, was used as a sacred language in an inscription of 1309 (K. 754). Probably dating from sometime in the fourteenth century is Monument 486, at which wings were attached to a tenth-century shrine (fig. 23d). As mentioned above (p. 169), on these wings are false doors with standing Buddha images, hands in front of the chest; the whole conception is Ariya Buddhist. Many Ariya themes, it would appear, had an impact at Angkor only at a late date.
A significant group of steles of thirteenth- or fourteenth-century date depicts events in the life of the Buddha. Two were found 500 meters south of the northwest Prasat Chrung. One shows the presentation of alms bowls to the Buddha by the lokapala, and the other illustrates the monkey’s gift of honey in the Parileyaka Forest. To these steles should be added a relief now in Bangkok showing the birth of the Buddha. The type of Buddha image in these steles somewhat resembles the naga-protected Buddha known as the “Com- maille.” Outside influence is at work—but from Burma or even India, rather, it would appear, than from Thailand.
Even if a satisfactory sequence could be constructed for these sculptures and sanctuaries, extending from around the middle of the thirteenth century into the fourteenth, it is not clear how much would then be revealed about developments in Thailand. In its organization, a pediment with stucco figures at the Mahathat in Lopburi bears comparison with a pediment at Preah Palilay. What is more important is how independent the Buddhist traditions seem; the narrative reliefs at Preah Palilay and on the various relief sculptures are not found in Thailand. What gradually emerged out of the Jayavarman VII period was a Theravada Buddhism largely independent of that of Thailand.
The Imperial Order, in the Provinces
Sukhothai, the Northeast, and the old Dvaravatr culture regions of central Thailand all experienced the imperial thrust in the 1180s and 1190s. Yet the monuments created in the different regions were not uniform, and the part the imperial structures played in subsequent cultural history varied considerably.
At Wat Phra Phai Luang in Sukhothai, the Khmer towers of the Jayavarman VII period became the core of an increasingly elaborate Thai monastic complex. In the Northeast, on the other hand, there is little or no evidence either of currents that anticipate future developments or of a Khmer sanctuary being transformed into a site for Hmayana worship. In the gopura at Prasat Ta Myan Tot (fig. 23a), along the modern border in Surin province, was found a “hospital” stele (K. 375), one of the many set up by Jayavarman VII in 1186. This shrine, as well as many others like it, was a chapel attached to an arogyasala, or hospital. Two types of image have been found in these chapels. One is an adorsed, seated four-armed Lokesvara, similar to images found elsewhere in the kingdom and possibly but not necessarily dating from 1186 or before. The other type is a crowned Vajradhara, in three examples of which the bell and vajra are held before the chest; in a fourth example (a figure seated in royal ease), upon each knee. The horizontal emphasis to the facial features of these images recalls earlier twelfth-century styles, and so the images can be comfortably dated to 1186. The iconographic relationship of these Vajradharas to the healing Buddha Bhaisajyaguru, who is invoked in the 1186 hospital inscriptions, is unclear: it is curious that images of Bhaisajya- guru have never been isolated.
At the shrine Ku Ban D£ng in Maha Sarakham and collected at Prang Ky in Chaiyaphum are lintels with Bayon-period imagery—the naga- protected Buddha, flanked by Lokesvara and Prajnaparamita.
Another lintel at Prang Kfi, perhaps a little later in date, shows a single Buddha atop a kala mask. At only one shrine, Kfi Sida, north of Phimai in Bua Yai district of Nakhon Ratchasima province, are there remains of stucco decoration.
Imperial activity at long-established temples included the construction at Phimai of a pair of laterite shrines flanking the main temple, perhaps at the very end of Jayavarman’s life; one held a portrait image of the king, the other apparently a kneeling companion female image. They faced the principal icon in the main sanctuary, and the hands of each are thought to have been raised in adoration (or in the attitude of hearing a prediction). The portrait image of Jayavarman was presumably imported from Cambodia, and two other fine Buddhist sculptures found at Phimai—a naga- protected Buddha and an uncrowned standing Buddha—probably were as well.
All this suggests that in the 1180s, 1190s, and early 1200s few stone carvers were active in the Northeast, their services, obviously, being required at Angkor. The situation in regard to bronze-casters may have been different, workshops possibly remaining active throughout the twelfth century. The Prajnaparamita illustrated in pl. 72 was found in Surin province; it is unlikely to predate Jayavarman’s adoption of his Mahayana triad and so may be attributed to the 1180s, 1190s, or early 1200s. The way the sprightly grace of certain kinds of Angkor Wat-style faces is turned into something softer and more openly expressive is characteristic of much Bayon-period sculpture in general. The presence of medallions on the skirt is common in works that were likely to have been made at the capital. Sometimes considered a provincial trait is the curve given to the lower edge of the crown. In fact, Suryavarman II, as depicted in the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat, wears an inflected crown; nevertheless, the crown here, with its medallions, suggests connections with crowns on images of the standing Buddha like the one in pl. 73, a descendant of the Phimai type (pl. 46B). The shape of the ornamented hair, furthermore, has connections with the contracted-foot usmsa seen in the large stone Buddha image in pl. 54. It would appear, therefore, that the maker of the bronze Prajnaparamita was aware of the Buddha-image types rooted in provincial twelfth-century tendencies.
As an ensemble it offers certain problems: the workmanship of the Buddha and of the tabernacle differ, and the absence of a lotus pedestal raises the question of whether the two parts were conceived together. Nevertheless, independently, the parts make sense as having an origin in the same place at about the same time. The altarpiece embodies important Ariya Buddhist themes. Along the framing pilasters and surmounting the arch are small pointed-crowned Buddhas in frames, a total of twenty-seven, fifteen of which perform the earth-touching gesture with the right hand, and twelve with the left. These Buddhas are the Buddhas of the past, the twenty-eighth Buddha being Gotama, whom they frame. At the same time, the mirrored gestures have to allude to the miracle of double appearances. The placement of the Buddhas of the past on surrounding leaves can be seen on thirteenth- century votive tablets. The Buddhas of the past make an earlier appearance on the pedestal of pl. 70B (dating from 1150-90), which may also be a product of a Northeastern workshop. The presence of a central pleat at the waist links the two works. The Kimbell Buddha retains many Angkor Wat-type features—open eyes, a robe- less torso—but in the looseness of treatment it shows the impact of Bayon-style sculpture, perhaps specifically in the form of the dvarapalas that reached Si Thep, which appears to have remained a vital city in the Jayavarman period.
One of the stone lintels at Prang Ku, Chaiyaphum, attributable to the period around the 1210s, 1220s, or 1230s, suggests that the Kimbell Buddha might have had a context, a setting that can be reconstructed. The general absence of thirteenth-century architectural remains in the Northeast is a stumbling block in the attribution of other elaborate bronze Buddhist altarpieces to particular sites. A number of bronzes suggest Northeastern manufacture, yet there are few sites to which Buddhist activity can be assigned. Technical analyses show that in the Jayavarman VII period Angkorian workmanship was characterized by the use of almost pure copper, by thick casting, and by the use of interior armatures.
The hospital system described in the Ta Prohm inscription of that year covered the Northeast, extending as far as Vientiane, and probably incorporated the Sukhothai region (given the evidence of Wat Chao Chan, Chaliang; p. 180 above). The absence in the central plains of hospital inscriptions, images of Vajradhara, or of the seated Lokesvara, as found in the Northeast, and apparently of hospital chapels as well, suggests that the status of the central plains was in 1186 in some way different from that of the rest of the kingdom. In the undated Phimanakas inscription, however, one ofJayavarman’s sons is identified as lord of Lavodaya (K. 485, st. 57), and by 1191 the situation had clearly changed, for in the Preah Khan inscription, among the twenty- three towns having images with the name Jayabuddhamahanatha were ones listed in an orderly sequence as follows: Lavodayapura (Lopburi), Svarnapura (Suphanburi), Sambukapattana, Jayarajapuri (Ratchaburi), Sri Jayasimhapuri (Muang Sing), and Sri Jayavajrapuri (Phetchaburi) (K. 908, st. 116-17). Vestiges of the Jayavarman VII period have been found at all these sites, including Svarnapura and Sambukapattana, if they are identified with Noen Thang Phra (Sam Chuk district, Suphanburi) and Kosinarai (Ban Pong district, Ratchaburi). These Jayabuddhamahanatha were most likely the “radiating” Lokesvara, the stone sculptures in which the body of the standing Bodhisattva is covered with many small images of the Buddha (perhaps to be considered Buddhas found in each of the Bodhisattva’s pores of skin) and with figures on the waist and chest (probably standing for a method of meditation akin to Kundalirn yoga). Examples have been found at some of the sites mentioned in the Preah Khan inscription—two near Lopburi, one at Kosinarai, one at Prasat Mfiang Sing.
The local polities that now joined an imperial network had identities of their own. Lopburi was a long-established city, and Nakhon Pathom was still inhabited in this period (perhaps it was the Svarnapura of the inscription). In addition to the vestiges at Noen Thang Phra, activities in Sam Chuk district of Suphanburi province are known through the evidence of a hoard of twenty-thirty bronzes discovered together in an urn in tambon Bang Khwak in 1963. Mostly Buddhist but some Brahmanical (including two Visnus and a Sr!), these bronzes include a number that surely postdate 1191, and so therefore they provide ambiguous evidence for activities in the previous decades; only the fact of production can be assumed. The evidence regarding stucco is equally unsatisfactory: the post-1191 sites include Lopburi, Muang Sing, Kosinarai, and Nakhon Pathom, but where the craftsmen that made these stuccos came from and where the prephase of the tradition is to be discovered are mysteries.
There was, at any rate, a flurry of activity around 1191. The art involved was one hatched at Angkor, and although additional geological evidence is needed to determine where the radiating Lokesvaras were carved, they were probably not local products. The monuments that rose at the same time include Phra Prang Sam Ypt (the “Three Prang”) at Lopburi (pl. 78A) and Prasat Muang Sing, on the Khwae Noi in Kanchanaburi province, about seventy kilometers upstream from Phong Tuk (fig. 23b). Phra Prang Sam Ypt shares with Angkor’s Preah Khan gopura (of about 1191) an interesting feature: abutting the central tower are false wings or slender buttresses that not only distinguish the corners of the central tower from those of the two end towers but also serve to break up the vertical mass of the shaft. They telescope the monument down to human proportions and increase the aura of approachibility conveyed by the multiple entrances: make, in sum, a kind of architecture that is as much a counterpart to the warmth of Bayon-style sculpture as Phimai (pl. 42) is a counterpart of the more remote quality of earlier Khmer sculpture. Presumably Phra Prang Sam Ypt was originally intended to house the members of the Jayavarman VII triad—Prajnaparamita, a naga- protected Buddha, and Lokesvara.
Some images of Lokesvara found at Lopburi probably date back to this period (pl. 74A) and exemplify the mature Jayavarman style, with rounded brows and broad mouth, a relative absence of interest in texture and line, and a desire to explicitly convey ideals of compassion. Such a head can be considered one of the foundations from which later Lopburi sculpture grew, as can be seen in pl. 74B, one of a small number of over-life-sized images that must postdate 1191. Here are lowered lids and a broad, firm mouth, but there is a degree of exaggeration and self-indulgence. The upper torso is shown unclothed—a rejection of the newer fashion. Incised lines on the thighs evoke the portrait images of Jayavarman, making it seem as if the Buddha were wearing a loin cloth. The naga hood represents yet another step in an evolution that can be traced from the eleventh century: originally the necks merely overlapped (pl. 52); then scaly sections were inserted between the necks (pl. 53); subsequently the scaly sections grew in width and importance (pl. 54);
and finally they seem to have taken over, leaving the heads nearly detached from the striped necks (pl. 74B). Such a massive sculpture demonstrates that at a point in time following the establishment of imperial hegemony the local rulers were able to command considerable resources.
At Prasat Muang Sing sculptures of the Mahayana deities have been found in two separate structures. In the main temple (fig. 23b), which must date from about 1191 or a little earlier, a naga- protected Buddha was placed in the central sanctuary and images of Lokesvara and Prajnaparamita in the directional entranceways. Somewhat later a temple was built to the northwest, its sanctuaries all joined together in a way somewhat like that seen in the final period of the Bayon style at Angkor. Eleven stone pedestals were uncovered, six four-armed Lokesvaras, and one Prajnaparamita; perhaps some of the missing images were naga-protected Buddhas. The words Brana Jaiyakara, probably a personal name, appear on one of these pedestals, written in letters that have more in common with those on the Dong Mae Nang Muang stele and an A. D. 1213 naga- protected Buddha found in Lopburi than on imperial inscriptions. The sculpture, all of a piece, its place of manufacture as equally uncertain as that from the earlier temple, is slightly different in style: there is a turn away from the softened contours of the high-Bayon style to sharper edges and stronger curves. The modeling of a naga-protected Buddha found in Suphanburi province appears to share some of the traits of the later Lokesvaras, which must date from the late 1190s or from the first two decades of the thirteenth century. Nothing exactly the same has been found in Lopburi, implying that the regional styles differed somewhat.
Phra Prang Sam Yot and Prasat Mfiang Sing are two key monuments from the time of Jayavarman VII. Phra Prang Sam Yot remained a focus of attention in the succeeding decades and centuries; Prasat Mfiang Sing was never adopted to the needs of those who were not followers of the Mahayana. Stucco ornament played an important role at both sites. The laterite hospital chapels of the Northeast had no stucco decoration, and the one temple on which stucco decor survives—Kfi Sida in Nakhon Ratchasima province (p. 209 above)—may postdate the hospital chapels. At Prasat Mfiang Sing, on the other hand, many fragments of stucco decoration were found—both human faces and elements of ornament. Given the short period in which the Mahayana was followed in the central plains, it is not likely that the stucco was added long after 1191; it is probably original. Of all the stucco ornament found at Bayon- period or post-Bayon sites—on the monuments of Lopburi and at Nakhon Pathom, Kosinarai, Noen Thang Phra, and Nong Chaeng— it is the Prasat Mfiang Sing stucco, furthermore, that appears to have the closest connection with Dvaravati traditions. It is thus entirely possible that Dvaravati stucco techniques were kept alive at some unidentified place (or places) in the eleventh and twelfth cen- tunes and that artisans who were heirs to the old techniques were called upon for the decoration of Prasat Mfiang Sing.
The unfinished sandstone pediment frames at Phra Prang Sam Yot (pl. 48B), although not especially high in quality, must be part of the imperial campaign of around 1191. The laterite hospital chapels of northeastern Thailand never received any stucco ornament, and so perhaps stucco decoration was not originally planned at the Lopburi temple, yet it must have been added close to the time that the pediment carving ceased. The guardian masks of the angles at ground level—destroyed in the 1970s—and the kala masks of the upper frieze (pl. 49A) are both concepts inspired at least ultimately by the art of Pagan, though both make occasional appearances at Angkor in the Bayon period. Pl. 79A illustrates one of the lower entablatures that break up the vertical mass of the central tower. Here is a translation into stucco of Angkorian ornament of about 1191. (The style is also found at Noen Thang Phra in Suphanburi province.) In the row of leaves below the scroll, the masses are lightened by incision, and the parts have a clear rhythmic order. The upper cornice (pl. 49A) may be contemporary, but it exhibits a different sensibility. The volutes beneath the mask have a thinner, more tendril-like character than the corresponding elements on the lower frieze; the leaf band is also more stemlike; and the elements over the head of the naga, though they have a palpable energy, lack the articulated rhythms of the leaves on the lower entablature.
Central Siam: a New Course
The people who may have been responsible for Prasat Muang Sing, people living in or near the Tha Chin and Mae Klong watersheds, had taken an independent path as few as nine years after the Preah Khan inscription had proclaimed Jayavarman’s farflung empire. Lopburi’s political ties may not have been severed until many decades later, but throughout the thirteenth century it was a culturally independent principality.
Which ethnic group was responsible—the Mons, the newly arriving Thais, or the Cambodians (who need not have felt any political allegiance to Angkor or—indeed, least of all—any loyalty to the ideologies of Jayavarman VII)? None of the three can be pushed out of the picture completely. From the religious point of view, there was undoubtedly a Mon resurgence. Surely the Khmer language was widely spoken, at least among the elite. And although firm evidence of Thai speakers is hard to detect before the final decades of the thirteenth century, there must have been pockets of adventurous villagers or displaced prisoners of war for decades or even centuries.
Descendants of the Dvaravati Mons live today in parts of Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces and call themselves Nyah Kur. The connections of Ariya themes with the Mon of Haripunjaya suggest that Mon speakers were instrumental in spreading Ariya iconic types. Mon speakers formed the basis of the population of the peninsula and were apparently still present in the thirteenth century (above, p. 190). The term “Dharmasoka” (originally, the “righteous Emperor Asoka”), which is found in the southern chronicles in a thirteenth-century context, also appears in the A.D. 1167 inscription of Dong Mae Nang Muang and can be taken as having Mon associations (above, p. 164). Because of the royal names and the attention paid to relations with Haripunjaya, the Thai-language legends of Nakhon Pathom can also be interpreted as indicating that Nakhon Pathom was Mon in the century before the establishment of Ayutthaya in 1351. At the same time, Ayutthaya- period texts provide abundant evidence of Khmer speakers in Lopburi as late as the 1430s, and these people must have had a centuries- old history. As for the Thai, it is now thought that the “Syam Kuk” depicted and so labeled in the reliefs of Angkor Wat were not Thai at all but members of some other ethnic group. The term Syam or Siam should be taken as a geographical rather than an ethnic identification.
A Lopburi naga-protected Buddha (pl. 75A) bears a Khmer-language inscription and a date equivalent to A. D. 1213 (K. 995):
135 saka raka naksatra aditya
135 of the Great Era [= A. D. 1213], year of the cock, Sunday
srl ca madhyahin git prati-
… at noon, established
stha brah buddhasamadhi ai-
a samadhi Buddha,
tadem vrah buddha srlmahabo-
desiring [aitadem for Pali ittham] Enlightenment.
[the Thai translator has at the Bodhi tree] dhi aya vrah saka
At Phra Sok [following the Thai translation],
done [this] himself.
The donor Candasvaratna, evidently a monk, has performed an act of merit that he hopes will lead him toward Enlightenment. Language and script place this text at a considerable distance from Angkor. The Buddhist affiliation would appear to be some form of Hinayana. The naga, in an image such as this, can either be understood as a kind of standard container or, perhaps, as an agent of transformation (cf. p. 152). Stone sculptures with coil supports having the same proportions, such as the example seen in pl. 75B, must date from about the same time. Not only are there specific elements, such as the broad mouth, that are indebted to the Jayavarman style (pl. 74A), the overall warmth and sense of humanity could not have been achieved had not the sculptors been aware of Jayavarman’s expression of compassion not long before. At the same time, this humanity moves in the direction of individuality, an avoidance of canonical standards, and a degree of folksiness and clumsiness, especially in the modeling of the torso. The Khmer tradition alone cannot explain everything we see; the sculptor must have been aware of other currents, as found in a bronze from Suphanburi province, and perhaps ultimately peninsular (see pls. 68A, 68B, and 69).
The large Buddha was presumably created at the behest of a ruler, and it adheres in fundamental ways to Bayon-style ideals. For the patron of the small Buddha (pl. 75B), and others like it, Bayon ideals might not have held the same normative position. If image size is an indication of social position, then the Ariya images showing the Buddha with hand in front of his chest performing abhaya-mudra occupy an intermediate position; perhaps they are to be associated with a local elite disinguishable from the rulers. The two products of the Lopburi stone workshops seen in pls. 76 and 77 represent a strong and distinctive aspect of Lopburi stone carving. Pl. 76 could well be the work of the same sculptor responsible for one of the handful of Lokesvara sculptures, and so the turn to Ariya subjects could not have occurred long after 1191. The face is enlivened by the play of linear elements, somewhat analogous to what can be seen in the Kimbell bronze (pl. 71), and perhaps owed in part to the proximity of Angkor Wat-style models.
The head in pl. 77, a robust presentation of sinuous curves, is the work of one of the best Lopburi sculptors, whose hand can be seen in other works, such as a naga-protected Buddha in the Lopburi National Museum. Adept at producing vigorously undulant outlines and volumes, he seems to have taken certain aspects of Bayon-style sculpture found, for example, in the devas of the Angkor Thom gates, and made use of them in making a Buddha image that has no parallel at Angkor. Either he was a local sculptor who had some familiarity with later aspects of the Bayon style, or perhaps an actual immigrant from Angkor, who arrived in Lopburi when the pace of production fell following the death of Jayavarman. At the same time, there is a degree of awkwardness that is not distant from that seen in the two naga-protected Buddhas (pls. 74B and 75B): apparent here in the heavy descent of the robe edge (compared with the sweeping arc in pl. 76, which must be earlier) and in the impression of discontinuity given by the torso, behind the left arm. All these considerations would tend to place such a standing Buddha in a period no later than about the 1220s, when the Lopburi elite might have been able to define itself by drawing on the strengths of the traditions of both Angkor and Haripunjaya.
A few bronzes can be connected to these stone sculptures of the early thirteenth century. A cache of thirteen objects deposited in a large urn, uncovered in 1997, included nine images of the standing crowned Buddha, one altarpiece with an uncrowned Maravijaya Buddha, two stupa-shrine models with niches on four faces (beneath the stupa bell), and a ceremonial bowl on stand. These objects appear to confirm what has earlier been surmised—that the primary bronze workshops of Lopburi followed an Angkor Wat-style tradition through the second half of the twelfth century and perhaps well into the thirteenth. One standing crowned Buddha that has been attributed to Lopburi and given a date within the Bayon period— in part because of some details at the back, having to do with belt treatment—can be seen in pl. 73. Its crown and necklace are similar to those on one of the excavated bronzes. The hand gestures are abhaya- rather than vitarka-mudra, which had characterized images attributable to the first half of the twelfth century, and the modeling is somewhat broader and more flaccid than had earlier been the case.
A more diverse group of bronzes discovered somewhere in Suphanburi province includes one image similar in character to pl. 73 as well as one (pl. 82) that is rather different: a standing figure, performing a double gesture, with pointed crown, flaring earrings that rest on the shoulder, overscaled jewelry elements. For the facial type, the antecedents appear to be works that have been assigned to about the third quarter of the twelfth century: the large naga-protected Buddha of pl. 54 or the bronze that shares features with the Grahi (pl. 55), works that should be understood as independent provincial developments. The ideal Jayavarman face (pl. 74A) does not have an apparent role, yet it is unlikely that the pl. 82 bronze predates the impact of the Bayon style or the establishment of imperial control. The warmth of the Bayon style should be seen as a liberating factor, making possible the folk-like character, the out-of-kilter proportions of the medallions, and the toleration of awkwardness.
The crown elements in pl. 82 are triangular, dependent upon the Pala-type crown found at Haripunjaya (pl. 59) but rudimentary in nature. A similar type of pointed crown can be seen in pl. 81 A, which is one of the stucco heads excavated at the site of Kosinarai, where a Jayabuddhamahanatha was discovered. At none of the sites with stuccos (except for Lopburi) is it possible to reconstruct the original setting for the stucco heads that now rest in museums; perhaps they ornamented pediments. The treatment of the eyes in the Kosinarai head evokes Dvaravati, specifically the Khu Bua head in pl. 24. Khu Bua stood not far away, and if it was no longer an active monastic site, it had probably been abandoned not much more than a hundred years previously. Still, no evidence for a living tradition of stucco production has been uncovered. Here is a face with an appealing directness that seems to owe little to Angkor. As in certain formulaic thirteenth-century Lopburi stone sculptures, individual facial features appear to be the sculptor’s building blocks: the nose that joins eyebrows, the protruding lips, the widely opened eyes. It is somewhat convenient to think of this stucco head as dating from later than the 1191 distribution of the Jayabuddhamahanatha images, but there is no unassailable evidence showing why it could not date from exactly that year or even somewhat earlier.
In bronze, similar qualities of modeling can be seen in the Ariya triad discovered in Uthai Thani province (pl. 83). The Kimbell assembly (pl. 71) belongs approximately to the same period. Earlier examples of such altarpieces would include pl. 46B (ca. early twelfth century) and pl. 70B (perhaps 1150-90). Pl. 83 shares a number of elements with contemporary altarpieces: the Bo tree at the top, an aureole (here, one which follows the scheme of pl. 70B), the tripartite pedestal, and the base with medallions, legs, and a triangular pendant element. It is distinguished by the degree to which the facial modeling has such an autochthonous character and by the tendency to make elements such as the lower parts of the tripartite pedestals seem lay- ered—a characteristic more Burmese than Khmer. The pointed crowns are made up of leaf-like elements, suggesting a connection with the crowns over the faces on the Bayon towers. But little else can be linked to any established chronological development, and so it might be best to ascribe it merely to the first half of the thirteenth century. A comparison has already been made (p. 182) with pl. 62A from Sukhothai, which may date from the middle years of the thirteenth century.
Lopburi’s Wat Phra Si Rattanamahathat
No doubt the three towers of Phra Prang Sam Yot were re-dedicated in the early thirteenth century: the images of Lokesvara and Prajnaparamita presumed to have stood in the northern and southern towers were replaced by flanking Buddha images, possibly but not necessarily standing Buddhas, the hand in front of the chest. But Phra Prang Sam Ypt never became a focal monument, attracting additional structures (or not until the seventeenth century). That role fell emphatically to the temple called here the Mahathat (pl. 51), a building diametrically opposed to Phra Prang Sam Ypt in key ways. Phra Prang Sam Ypt is an easily approachable building; it has a multiplicity of entrances, and its broken-up wall surfaces provide a human scale. The Mahathat (the tall tower, on the right in pl. 51), on the other hand, seems to keep the visitor at a distance. Its central sanctuary can only be entered through the forechamber, and the stairways in the other directions lead only to niches. At ground level, the visitor is overwhelmed by the moldings that creep so high up on the sides of the building. The corners of the sanctuary, furthermore, extend unbroken to the main cornice, making the porticos seem like appurtenances stuck on to the central mass rather than, as at Phra Prang Sam Yot, welcoming extensions.
Various kinds of evidence can be used to date the Mahathat, and contradictory conclusions can be reached. According to a scenario proposed in 1995 and outlined above (p. 163), the lintel on the southern face of the forechamber (pl. 50B) is part of the original fabric of the monument, which must then have been founded in the twelfth century, very likely during the time of Lopburi’s independence following the death of Suryavarman II. The porches were turned into porticoed niches. A thirteenth-century architect could, in fact, reject the intermediary cornices of the Bayon style and return to a display of three corners at each angle of the sanctuary without raising the building so high. At thirteenth-century Kamphaeng Laeng in Phetchaburi (pl. 80A and fig. 23c), for instance, one of the shrines displays three corners, but the scale of the structure fits in with the other more Bayonesque shrines in the complex. The decision to elevate the lower parts of the shrine, a primary concern for the Mahathat architects, was a decision that had been made in the twelfth century. Once the Mahathat became a prime focal point in the thirteenth century, a path was set from which in later centuries there was no retreat, for basements became increasingly higher.
According to the proposed scenario, work at the Mahathat was interrupted with the re-establishment of Angkorian hegemony before 1191 and commenced again only at some point after the death of Jayavarman VII. The stucco ornament around the southern porch door (pl. 78B) dates from this time. Elements of this decoration share with the main cornice at Phra Prang Sam Yot (pl. 49A) a tendency to make use of stemlike elements. The use of beads (common at Pagan, but also important at Phimai) is a new element. They tend to replace the ball flowers found at Phra Prang Sam Yot (above the masks in pl. 49A). The Mahathat dado ornament apparently cannot, however, be derived from the Phra Prang Sam Y§t stucco, and there is likely to have been a fresh outside source. This could either have been something from the later phase of the Bayon style at Angkor or from the monument of Preah Palilay, where somewhat similar ornament can be found. There is also a connection between the design of one of the pediments at the Mahathat—showing a Maravijaya Buddha with two attendant figures—and a Palilay pediment, one in which one of the worshipers, identifiable as Siva, shares qualities with the bronze Siva in pl. 85. Furthermore, Preah Palilay itself is raised high on terraces—a development for which the Lopburi Mahathat would have to be responsible, if it was indeed founded in the third quarter of the twelfth century. It should be concluded, therefore, that a degree of religious intercourse and reciprocal influence explain the connections between the two monuments. It was stated above (p. 203) that Preah Palilay is probably no earlier than the 1240s or later than the 1290s. The Thai evidence cannot conclusively narrow the range of dates, though the mid-century date appears the more probable.
Either in the same campaign that brought the Mahathat to completion and provided it with stucco ornament or soon thereafter, brick wings were added north and south, transforming the structure into an Ariya monument. Each wing held a tower. The southern one fell at some unknown time in the past, but the northern one stood until about the end of World War II and appears in old photographs, of which pl. 51 is one. These towers resembled the two early brick prang of Monument 16C in the temple compound and at nearby Wat Nakh§n Kosa. There are no Ariya votive tablets in which the central Buddha is naga-protected; as in the Haripunjaya tablet of pl. 56, he is invariably in the earth-touching pose. The adoption of Ariya beliefs meant the displacement of the naga-protected Buddha—the dominant icon of the Jayavarman period—by the Maravijaya. The flanking Buddhas in Ariya votive tablets, however, are sometimes in the attitude of meditation, and in the small bronze plaque illustrated in pl. 80B, they are naga-protected. This plaque, and the related tablets, are a pictorial counterpart to the Mahathat with wings attached: the slightly awkward touching of the bases of the central and flanking images echoes the relationship between laterite and brick at the Mahathat (though, true, the distinction of material was hidden by stucco). The plaque suggests that a place was made in the Ariya system for naga-protected Buddhas, as subsidiary images, and this notion must account for the continued production of stone naga-protected Buddhas at Lopburi well into the Ariya period (but not beyond).
The flanking towers can also be associated with the standing Buddha, hand on chest: the upper tier of the Lamphun tablet (pl. 56) provides a model. This is the pose found at the Kamphaeng Laeng shrine in Phetchaburi (pl. 80A and fig. 23c), surely built before the north and south flanking shrines were added at the Mahathat. It is also found in the later Monument 486 at Angkor. In general, however, the flanking images in the bronze groupings tend— like the central figure—to assume the Maravijaya pose (pl. 83).
In the stucco decoration at both Phra Prang Sam Yot and the Mahathat the work of a number of different hands is detectable; what is not known is when these different hands were at work. At the Mahathat there are sections that display derivation from Burma rather than from Angkor. Due to the way stucco is ordinarily crafted in successive layers, the physical evidence does not easily yield telltale signs of repair. One section of decoration at the Mahathat, for instance, shares certain features with the lotus panels on Ram Khamhaeng’s stone throne, the manansilapatra of the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (fig. 22). If this decor is original, it would argue for a date for the Mahathat toward the end of the possible timespan rather than the beginning. More likely it is a repair, perhaps of the late thirteenth century, perhaps (as Santi Leksukhum proposed) of the early Ayutthaya period.
The brick sanctuary towers of Monument 16C in the Mahathat compound and at Lopburi’s Wat Nakh§n Kosa much resemble the lost flanking towers at the Mahathat. Their stucco decor provides indications of the path of development into the fourteenth century. Both examples are derived from the elements in the Mahathat dado. At Monument 16C (pl. 79B), the stems and leaves have become separated from one another and their three-dimensional relationship is lost; what is left is a pleasantly rhythmic but largely two-dimensional pattern. Circlets enlarge the role of the earlier beads. At the prang at Wat Nakhon Kosa (pl. 49B), finally, there is a movement away from individually modeled plastic masses towards flat surfaces, which are now sharply incised with different patterns. The naga cresting, compared to that at Phra Prang Sam Yot (pl. 49A) is light and vibrant. The bar-rosette band above the frieze is a new motif. Another motif, the yaksa with club, can be seen also at the Chaliang gate of around 1300 (pl. 66).
Developments in Sculpture
The meditating Buddha in pl. 84 is a distinguished object, capable of engaging our attention, oblivious of the absence of grace in its bodily proportions. One significant reason for dating it toward the end of a period of concentrated stone production at Lopburi is that it is characterized by a number of motifs that are rare in stone but can be observed in bronze images, many of which cannot be as old as the bronzes already discussed. The Buddha wears a tiara (compare pl. 81B), held in place by heavy straps reaching on four sides to the usntsa (less obtrusive straps can be seen in the stone standing Buddha, pl. 77). His eyes are open. The heavy shawl that hangs over his left shoulder is folded in such a way that incised lines form a reverse letter L (as in pls. 86A and 86B). The pedestal consists of a single band of upright lotus petals—actually an old concept (cf. pl. 52, the Suphanburi stele), but one not typical of Lopburi stone production.
Clearly, the quality of humanity is something made possible by the innovations of the Bayon style, and comparable awkwardnesses in the body have been observed in other Lopburi sculpture, such as pls. 75B and 77. One feature that particularly helps set this sculpture apart is the presence of open eyes. Open eyes had been normal in the twelfth century, and they do characterize a certain number of Lopburi stones of the late twelfth or early thirteenth centuries. Furthermore, if bronze workshops adhering to older norms remained active well into the thirteenth century, then Angkor Wat-type open eyes were always present as an alternative. Nevertheless, the eyes in this sculpture have a remarkable insistence.
It may be possible to explain everything in terms of elements at hand. If such is the case, then the Kimbell bronze (pl. 71) makes an instructive comparison: a work evidently later than 1191 but with the unclothed torso and open eyes that adhere to earlier traditions. The result is a figure both tense and remote, something quite different from the stone meditating Buddha. Perhaps there is a connection in another direction, with the bronze half-seated Siva illustrated in pl. 85, already linked to the Preah Palilay-Preah Pithu milieu at Angkor. If a tie between Preah Palilay and the Mahathat sometime in the middle decades of the thirteenth century (or perhaps later) helps explain elements at both sites, then a comparable connection might be at work in the stone meditating Buddha, playing a role in its facial proportions and modeling.
If at this point there was a turn away from stone at Lopburi, then the building blocks of an art history become even more disparate, scattered, and elusive. Trends can be surmised: away from Ariya Buddhism, away from pointed crowns and elaborate tabernacles, toward Maravijaya Buddhas of increasing size, with no crown or tabernacle. It has already been proposed (pp. 186-87) that at Sukhothai the standing Buddha with left hand at the side, right hand raised in a gesture, emerged as a significant iconic type in the final decades of the thirteenth century (pl. 63). The instances in stone at Chaiya may be no older than this (pl. 68C, the posture reversed). Therefore, the spread of this iconic type may serve as a chronological marker.
It has been seen that the last decades of the thirteenth century were marked by new situations: this was the period of the capture of Haripunjaya, the rise of King Ram Khamhaeng, a war between Siam and Cambodia, and, in the far south, the end of a long period of Srivijayan culture in Sathing Phra. In Chinese annals, the late thirteenth century is the period of the rise of Hsien or Siam, which in the 1278-82 period China considered invading, and to which in July, 1282, the first of several Chinese embassies was dispatched. It was evidently pressures from Hsien that brought a spate of missions from Lopburi (Lo-hu) to China—in 1289, 1291, 1296, 1297, and 1299. The Chinese records provide much evidence for not identifying Hsien with Sukhothai; at the same time, it seems hard to divorce Sukhothai expansion from the activities of Hsien, wherever it may have stood. Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom seem at least as likely as a site in Suphanburi province or in the vicinity of
Ayutthaya. The only Thai-language legendary accounts that appear relevant are those of Nakhon Pathom (“Nagara Jaiyasri”), which describe the foundation of a monument by the king of Lopburi (“Lawo”) and, thirty-five years later (possibly in A. D. 1312), the capture of the city by a king of Sukhothai, followed by the movement of armies north to Lamphun, where homage is paid to relics of the Buddha. These legends also provide reasons for believing that Nagara Jaiyasri was ethnically Mon prior to the Sukhothai invasion, as Hsien may have been. At any rate, the series of missions from Lopburi to China should be understood not as an indication of a recent rise to power but of an altered situation: after a long period of apparent strength and prosperity, Lopburi’s position was being challenged.
In carrying the story forward from the meditating Buddha (pl. 84), motifs provide some guidance. The shawl incised with a “reverse- L,” seen on the stone Buddha, for instance, also characterizes two bronzes, pls. 86A and 86B. The latter comes from Muang San, a site in Chainat province in which the architectural vestiges, of the fourteenth and perhaps late thirteenth centuries, exhibit ties to both Haripunjaya and Lopburi, and in which were found a number of the bronze Buddha images with certain Khmer-like elements—sculp- tures belonging to the so-called U Thong style. In pl. 86B, the facial modeling strongly recalls that of a Lopburi-type stone image in the local museum, one depicting the standing Buddha, hand on chest. Therefore it is possible to suppose a rather short time gap—or none at all—between the two works. The much smaller image, pl. 86A, was deposited at Wat Ratchaburana in Ayutthaya in the 1420s. An exquisite object, it takes a path that is regrettably nearly unique, apparently drawing on Dvaravati and Haripunjaya features in the joined, incised eyebrows and the open eyes. It is the work of a sculptor working in an unknown location, taking advantage of a moment of crisis or freedom to establish an individual identity.
Pl. 81B belongs to a group of stucco heads found at Nakhon Pathom sometime before 1929. The tiara—a feature already men- tioned—has roots in much twelfth-century Khmer art, and the facial modeling is not without links to the Bayon style; nevertheless, this head, and the others of the group to which it belongs, may well not date any earlier than about the late thirteenth century. Unfortunately, it is not easy to integrate sequences of ornament with those of sculpture, even when—as in the case of Monument 16C in Lopburi (pl. 79B)—the two are combined. With a broad mouth, turned up slightly at the edges, the Nakhon Pathom stucco head provides a bridge to works that are even more advanced. One of these is the stone head from Lopburi, pl. 87B. Here is a rounded usnisa of small curls, surmounted by a new element, possibly a flame, that proclaims the establishment of a fresh iconic tradition. Some sort of break in Lopburi stone production must be assumed, following the meditating Buddha, pl. 84, and prior to this head, yet the break might in fact have had little duration. There are also stylistic connections to the large bronze Buddha seen in pl. 87A. Its pedestal type, on the other hand, is one that might not have been established until the second half of the fourteenth century, and the curved shawl differentiates it from earlier works.
Another feature in the Nakhon Pathom head is the vertical cleft- ing below the nose and on the lower lip. There are many earlier instances of such clefting, but it becomes a rather common feature in works of the late thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries. It provides a connection with a tall image of the standing Buddha in the Lopburi Museum, pl. 88, which bears significant clefting on the chin. This sculpture was possibly but not necessarily made in Lopburi. The ornament upon the central pleat has ties to earlier phases of bronze production while the face exhibits some similarities with the bronze of the same iconic type discovered in Sukhothai (pl. 63A). Another sculpture which can be brought into the picture is the head from Lamphun, pl. 61B. It can be supposed that the regional interconnections suggested by these similarities must be due in part to the movement of Thai-speaking people in the final decades of the thirteenth or early decades of the fourteenth century.