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The Bangkok National Museum

Thailand History and Culture 

Want to Understand Thailand & Siam History and Culture (a bit) ?
It needs to visit the Bangkok National Museum this is not only the largest museum in the country but in whole ASEAN (Southeast Asia). The former palace featuring exhibits of Thai art and history plus plenty of other interesting items and exhibitions a good extention is a day trip to Ayutthaya.

Very comprehensive visual and written information is available in different halls. The place houses plenty of unique artifacts and is also a valuable history source many students/pupils walk through every day.

Currently (2019) the place exhibits history relevant artifacts back to Neolithic times.​ This historical showcase opened in 1874 under King Rama V to exhibit relics from the past including artifacts and very pretty made models from events in particular from the war with Burma which have been several in Thai history.

The galleries contain exhibits of a time-frame back to Neolithic times to artifacts dated from Dvaravati Sukhotha and Ayutthaya period. Interesting Buddhist Arts is on display from the
country and the surrounding including India Myanmar China Cambodia and Indonesia.

















The Thai army, although supported by troops of other cities, could not overcome the enemy. The Burmese survived through flood time of 1766. Food and supplies were getting rare inside the city.

Within this showcase of the past it also needs to visit the old capital Ayutthaya which is just about 120 km north of the capital a ride from Hua Lamphong Train Station of about 2 hours and a peep into the backyards of the city.





















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stone Buddha head ayutthaya
Buddha Head Bronze Sakyamuni left is a good replica and can be bought by following the link.

Here are several exhibitions on Siam culture,the exhibited artifacts date back until Neolithic times. Siam Culture is shown and explained until recent times. Its a good source to understnd Thailand history and culture.

Many other interesting things are on display such as about the Burmese wars with Ayutthaya and plenty items collected over the centuries or donated. The Ayutthaya Wing is the destination for Buddha Statues lover.
The war with the Burmese which led to the loss of Ayutthaya started in 1765. The Burmese army moved through Chiang Mai from the north and through Tavoy (Dawai) from the south and looting  along the way to Ayutthaya and settled up its headquarter at Pho Sam Ton. 
wat arun or temple of dawn

Probably the most suitable way to approach the museum is by using the Chao Phraya River Ferry after passing Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn  at the left ship stops at the pier and the running the gauntlet through hostile crowds starts. Don't try the bus because the right bus never come beside of this there are hordes of Chinese tourists you have to navigate through and countless shops where they try you to pull you in they even try to lend you clothing for visiting the palace at Sanam Luang for a fee naturally. ​​

The National Museum Bangkok is open daily from 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m except Monday, Tuesday and National holidays. Tel. (+662)224-1404,224-1333

























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​​All this people want to sell anything to the tourist crowd and are not very positive when the foreigners don't buy something immidiately. in 2018 the military government started to push this people away and the whole media shouted out against the government although everyone knew of this aggravation of the "flying" merchants but they did not allow any possibility pass to criticizes the government. They even wanted to sell me some "proper clothing" for visiting the "Grand Palace" it was a real challenge to reach the door to the museum.
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The problem is to find the place even Thai people around there don't know the place and it is well hidden behind the usual "Hawker Junk" and other sales booth littering the street and boardwalk which just makes it invisible. Since this is a problem with everything and everywhere in Thailand it is amazing why the government never handle it.

If you like some famous old ruins of former Siam the best is visit Ayutthaya and Sukhothai actually those are not the only one but the most popular. This is Thai Buddhist Art and Indian Gandhara Buddha Statues Chinese Tang objects Vietnamese Chan Indonesian Java, and Khmer arts.

The Bangkok National Museum is perfectly hidden and almost impossible to find when asking anyone around Sanam Luang (it's there) everyone tells (as usual) they don’t know. Also taking a taxi and tuk-tuk is useless since they tell they know the place but as usual they are lying. ​​


The Bangkok National Museum Map above show different possibities to travel there My experience tell me the best is to combine some which is first to Saphan Taksin with the BTS elevated train and after from there with big tourist riverboat (Baht 20) to the exit pier for the "grand palace" and after try to get your way through.




Helpful could be to ask your hotel reception to write it down in Thai language since most people dont understand any other language but they will never admit that means they will tell either they dont know or the taxi etc. will tell you ok sit down and once he has you in the car (means money) he will start searching around and that could become expensive although the taxi fare in Thailand is rather low but this guys developed many tricks to cheat foreigners.  E.G. they tell you the museum is closed today but they know an even better place and deliver you to a Chinese jewelry store where the people try to sell some fake ruby junk or similar because the taxi driver will get commissian.


The Bangkok National Museum Exhibition.

The Ayutkhmerthaya Wing with Buddha Statues
Buddha Exhibitian Photos
​​This arts and crafts were subject to a strong Burmese influence which virtually obliterated old native forms. Here  are permanent exhibirions of statues and artifacts.
  1. Bangkok national museum golden Buddha statues
  2. Buddha head with gold leafs
  3. Buddha Head Masterpiece
  4. Buddha head from Ayutthaya
Chinese tourist making a selfie
In the north, especially in the Lanna Kingdom and Laos, which did not suffer so severely from this incursions the older styles survived developing slowly into modern times.

It must be said that that the Hinayana art of both countries ( Thailand & Myanmar is interesting mainly in its early formative stages. Once the canonical patterns were laid down artistic invention virtually ceased.

Buddha Statues & Sculptures.

Terracotta Buddha Head



Other traveling exhibition shows.


Here are many gold, stone and bronze sculptures.




In the Bangkok National Museum Here lots of facts and objects can be studied, it tells a lot about the country. They took plenty of time to visualize certain historical events by panoramic models, that's a treasure trove for anyone interested in history. The pagodas treasures consist of Buddha Images, votive tablets, ritual objects and other offerings. Animal plaques depicting elephants, horses and turtles and ornaments such as bangles, necklaces and bracelets. It is widely believed that these gold items were placed into the stupa by a King of Ayutthaya which he had ordered to erect to gain merit for himself and his ancestors.





They are of the early "Bangkok period" made especially during the reign of King Rama III. They portrait the Buddha in the position of subduing Mara.

Some of the gold ornaments found at Wat Mahadhatu and Ratchaburana Ayutthaya were presented by the people to the government in 1939 to support reclaiming land in Indochina from the French. Other pieces were donated to the National Museum on the Thai Heritage Day in 1985. The gold treasures are of great value and represent a high aesthetic quality.

The History and Culture prevalence of present day Thailand.

The feeling for the spirits and their world is one of the reasons for the genuine affinity between certain aspects of Thai and Myanmar or Burmese art. It seems probable that the Thai who settled in the northern region of Siam today did not at first know anything of Buddhism, despite the contact of other branches with forms of Buddhism in Nan Chao, Ceylon and the Khmer empire.

It probably reached them via the Ari priesthood of Upper Burma. The early history of the northern region is mainly one of the fluctuations of power and influence between Sukhothai and the Lanna Kingdom in the north with the second largest city Chiang Mai. King Tiloka, by maintaining full contact between Siam and the Buddhist world of Ceylon, even India, ensured that this should be as direct an inheritor of the truth as it could possibly be. This concern with lineage is closely reflected in the art. The fact that valuable bronze was liberally use making huge images, and the fact that it has remained a Buddhist country eager to conserve its sacred images, means that there is today an unrivaled continuous series of Hinayana statues to see. In the south, Ayutthaya learned likewise from the art tradition of Sukhothai.

The styles which prevailed there in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries were based on an amalgam of the classical style with the fairly strong vestiges of Khmer traditions among a population still predominantly Mon. It is impossible at present, however, to disentangle the architectural and artistic history of the south at all satisfactorily, since the necessary archaeological investigations on the spot have not been done.

It seems probable that the majority of important structures and works surviving at Ayutthaya and all those around the new capital date from a period subsequent to the wars. Actually the relationship between the two countries in the last few centuries was always bumpy, read more.

The rulers behind the western border conducted aggression against the Siam kingdoms in north and south during the later sixteenth century. They attempted to palliate his gross human cruelty by schematic acts of piety – feeding monks, distributing copies of the scriptures, and building pagodas (stupas) and monasteries.

Siamese Art in the central region.

Standard types were repeated "again and again", and Buddhist architecture made no attempt to organize and articulate space. There was a positive religious reason for this state of affairs. There was long a belief, erroneous but potent, that an authorized image of the Lord had been carved during his lifetime.

Following primitive conceptions which are, strictly speaking, abhorrent to well-educated people, this image was supposed to have absorbed much of it's own magical potency. All the major images of shrines were supposed to continuing their own share of this magical potency of the original image by virtue of their exact likeness to the great original.

To ensure this likeness, immense care was taken to adhere as closely as human craftsmen could to the iconographic pattern, which was reduced for safety to a series of diagrams, measurements a rid canonical proportions.

Such differences of style in old Buddhist art as do occur between different times and places are unintentional and unavoidable, the natural consequence of craftsmen working in their own artistic idiom. They were only cultivated intentionally when an attempt was being made to capture the likeness of a famous magical image in a style which had already evolved its idiosyncrasy.

Hinayana Buddhism influence.


In countries of the Mahayana with vital art traditions, such as China, Japan and even Tibet, the role of creative artistic was admitted to be important in the development of religious imagery.

In countries of the Hinayana, art was only to preserve and repeat, old patterns with a conservative and fundamentalist ideology, sticking so far as possible to the strict letter of ancient canons.

Neither in religious literature nor in art was there any incentive to explore the resources of words or for is. The truth had been expressed once and for all. To change them would be to lose the truth.

Buddha Images in Thailand.
They were popularly meant to be repositories of power; even today the famous Emerald Buddha of Bangkok is one.


Exposition of Buddha Images

Therefore it was of the greatest importance to make the images like each other, avoiding change. Once local rules were established, as close as possible to Indian originals, they were never intentionally altered.


Bronze Buddha Sukhothai Style

Sukhothai is one of the main old towns in Thailand about 400 km north with a historical park and other things to see and sightseeing to do on holiday travel. This is one of the destinations which should be on the agenda on a visit to the country, read more.

It is located at Sanam Luang square, the map is here How to travel there? Either by taxi or via a river cruise which starts close to Saphan Thaksin BTS Station.

Just take the taxi or a ship to Sanam Luang where the Grand Palace and other interesting places are. The best is in the early afternoon when the buses with Chinese tourists and other already left.

Enjoy a cruise on the Chao Phraya River

A cruise on the Chao Phraya River is probably the best way to Sanam Luang where the collections are. It also open the view onto the busy live on the water where small and big vessels are moving around. The half hour trip cost Baht 40,- and is definitely worth it, read more.



About things to do in the Bangkok National Museum.

Where is it and opening hours:

Location:

Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok 10200
Located between Thammasat University and The National Theatre,opposit Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace.

How to travel there?


Bangkok River Cruise on the Chao Phraya.

The best is use the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Thaksin and from there take a river cruise and exit at Grand Palace you could ask at the station where to exit since different ships have different stops. After no need to ask anywhere since no local around know where it is, the best is get it marked in a map you can get in the hotel and walk along the western main road next to the river which passes the Grand Palace, its on that street, read more.


In the Bangkok National Museum.

Gold Buddha images.

The location of the Bangkok National Museum is at 4 Na Phra That, Bangkok 10200 very near to Sanam Luang. The way to visit the place is take a river ship below Saphan Thaksin BTS station and exit at the Grand Palace. No use to take any taxi because nobody knows, people also tell about buses but they never come it's just the usual chaos.

Where is the Bangkok National Museum and opening hours: Open daily from 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m except for Monday Tuesday and National holidays. Tel. (+662)224-1404,224-1333

Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok 10200
Located between Thammasat University and The National Theatre opposite Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace.