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More Than Bangkok

An Art Escape, From Bangkok to Siem Reap

words By
BAC Editorial
photography By

Today, we'd like to invite you to join us in exploring the old city area, where you can admire various forms of art and architecture, learn more about the past at museums, and appreciate the cultural connections between Thailand and Cambodia.

You'll have the opportunity to witness the beauty of ancient civilisation and the grandeur of the Khmer Empire that ruled from King Suryavarman I to King Jayavarman VII. You can also trace the footprints of history from Bayon temple in Siem Reap's old town, which had a significant influence on the art and culture of the Ayutthaya and Lopburi periods. These artifacts are well-preserved at the National Museum in Bangkok. Finally, you can marvel at the impressive collection of textiles, weavings, and royal celebrations, which are exclusively showcased at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.

The National Museum Bangkok is located at the "Phra Nakhon Royal Palace, Front Palace" or "Wang Na" built in 1782. In addition to the former royal residence and palace of the Wang Na, today the National Museum has opened new exhibition rooms in the "Praphat Pipittapan" building, collecting more than 900 valuable antiquities and art objects from the 18th century and developing an understanding of the history of Thai culture. Let's come and explore some parts of it together!

The atmosphere and exhibition of the grand art of Dvaravati , the ancient civilization that is spread across many regions in Southeast Asia. The newly renovated exhibition takes us to experience the scent of ancient Khmer art that reminds us of the old city of Siem Reap.

Through numerous artifacts, we are taken on a journey back to the civilization of the Khmer in the past. These ancient artifacts tell stories about the people and beliefs of bygone eras.

The valuable artifacts on display at eye level, allowing us to get up close and personal with ancient objects in a way that is truly special and cannot be found even in the Angkor Wat itself.

The Sema inscription is an ancient Khmer script, written in the Sanskrit language, dating back to the 15th Buddhist century. These inscriptions allow us to see how people pass on knowledge and wisdom without boundaries in the ancient times.

The Goddess sculpture is a Lopburi-style art, created in the 16th Buddhist century from the Phanom Rung historical park in Buriram Province. It depicts a person dressed in a long cloth with low waist and pleats throughout, and has a fish-tail shaped skirt. The sculpture wears a wide striped cloth belt with a buckle, following the popular tradition of "Baphuon" art.

This is similar to the sculpture of Apsara, an angel or goddess who serves at the temples. There are many of them visible around various temples in the city of Siem Reap. If there is only one that smiles showing teeth, it is believed to be the result of the sculptor's humor, adding charm to your time exploring the temples.

From Apsara’s exquisite robe, we continue our visit to explore the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles located in the Ratsadakorn-bhibhathana building of the Grand Palace, displaying a blend of traditional and contemporary art that embodies Thai wisdom and exceptional craftsmanship. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, founded the museum to safeguard and promote the Thai silk industry and textile arts. Open to the public since 2012, the museum houses an extensive collection of splendid textiles, ranging from handmade fabrics to modern designs, while also serving as a hub for learning and research on Thai textiles and costume history.

Within the area of the white Italianate building, there is an exhibition celebrating titled "Decades of Style: The Royal Wardrobe of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit". It showcases valuable and artistic fabrics from the royal palace and various regions, demonstrating the evolution of fabric usage in creating high-end fashion items in a contemporary style.

The clothing and fabrics used for the exhibition will be rotating exhibits. In 2023, we will have the opportunity to see the exhibition "A Royal Treasure: The Javanese Batik Collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam" to commemorate the royal duties of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) during his three visits to Java.

The collection of rare and valuable Javanese batik fabrics.

Apart from being a place to collect and preserve Thai textiles to uphold the royal tradition of Thai weaving as a cultural heritage, this is also a must-visit spot where visitors of all ages can learn about the significance of textiles, the production process, storage and preservation through a meticulously designed exhibition that provides a fascinating experience through "textiles".

And we can also research the art and science of weaving, embroidery, and textile at the museum library, which has been newly renovated to immerse us in the world of books about fabrics and textiles. It is another beautiful place that should not be missed.

We hope that this cultural experience of the extremely significant heritage of Thailand will inspire you to depart on a journey after your stay in Bangkok.  By taking just a 1.15-hour flight from Bangkok, you can conveniently reach the magnificent and prosperous land of Khmer civilization, "Siem Reap", the city of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

Photography: Chanut Husbumrer/The Royal Photographic Society Thailand (RPST)/FYI Bangkok/Paul Szewczyk
Graphic: Chanut Husbumrer

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