Art and Culture Monarchy

The woman during the 5th reign

    Art and Culture Monarchy
    As an influence on art and culture the Thai monarchy has had an equal impact. Kings have traditionally been the greatest patrons of the arts and, as the upholders of the Buddhist faith, provided a stimulus to achievements in architecture, sculpture and painting. In the cultural sphere royal ceremonial serves to provide a link with the past, ensuring continuity and preserving ancient traditions to a marked degree.
    When, in 1932, the system of an absolute monarchy was changed to a constitutional monarchy the political powers of kings were curtailed, but this in no way altered the respect felt for them, nor reduced their role as the single most important unifying force in the state. The concept of nationhood continues to revolve, as in the past, around the three key elements of country, king and religion.
    In a comparison between Thailand and its immediate neighbours of Burma, Loas and Kampuchea it is not coincidental to note the former, in faring better, has retained the tradition of regal authority. The latter countries, historically similarly established with the concept of kingship, responded less well to change and external pressure once their regal authority was undermined. Thailand, largely thanks to its unique concept of monarchy in which continuity is blended with amazing powers of adaptability, emerges today not only as a historically independent nation, but also as one of Southeast Asia's most recent economic success stories.
    The key to that success has been stability which the monarchy has helped to provide during decades of accelerated politicall and socio-economic change. During this period of rapid avancement King Bhumibol has reigned. Remarkably he was not trained for the role from birth as were most of his illustrious predecessors, and the way in which he rapidly adapted to, and more significantly, interpreted his unexpected succession to the throne is a measure of his great achievement.

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  • A brief history of Thailand, Holiday Time in Thailand, sep. - oct. 1986, P. 38.
  • Thai Dress Through The Ages, by Bonnie Davis, Living in Thailand, sep. 1991, P. 14-15.
  • The Longest Reign, by John Hoskin, King Bhumibol the Great - See the Highlights of the Royal obligation, Thailand, P. 43-46.
  • Photograph from Thai National Memorial Home Page
  • THE TAI RACE RESEARCH, by Luang Vichitvatrakran, Colonel, Bangkok, Thailand, 1969