Click on the images for a larger version.
We start with a trick question. Neither of these first two are Buddha
images (but all the rest are!) The statue on the left, made of green plastic,
is of a renowned 19th Century Thai monk- a realistic portrait. A visitor
to these pages from Thailand- Rachatapong- has provided some details about
The image is a well-known monk, Somdhet Prabuddhajarn (the title with which King Rama 4 honoured him). His former name before he was in the monk life and when he was ordained was Bhammaransi. He was the abbot at Wat Rakangghosiddhoram near the temple of Dawn in Bangkok. The Thai make his statue as lucky charms. You can find his statue (image) all over Thailand.
The figure on the right is also a monk- the attitude of prayer is a giveaway here. Note that the legs are tucked under, so the feet do not point disrespectfully toward the altar. An elderly Thai lady once took me to her local wat and tried to teach me to kneel that way, but I just kept falling over sideways! The image has a stylised "Buddha" face- it is not a portrait like the monk on the left. It is in the Ratankosii or early Bangkok style, exemplified by that wonderful filigree decoration- perhaps an influence of the European Rococo. To confuse matters further, this is sometimes described as "Buddha when he was a monk", but the absence of a holy flame projecting from the top of the head indicates that this is not accurate. The Buddha in most iconographies would no more be pictured without his flame than medieval saints would be shown without their halos.
FOR THE EXPERTS. (Click the image for a larger version). A visitor
to these pages sent me this picture of a beautiful Buddha image,
which neither of us could place. It is in the posture of Buddha meditating.
I recently took a printout of the picture to the Bangkok Buddha market,
near Wat Mahatat, and the experts there were unanimous that it was
from Sri Lanka. The engraved robes are also seen on images from the Ayuthya
kingrom of Thailand, which went from the 14th to 18th Centuries AD. At
that time, and even earlier, Sri Lanka was to Buddhism what Rome is to
Catholics- the centre of religious authority and authenticity- and
monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma often exchanged visits. Maybe
they also exchanged images of the Buddha, or ideas about artistic
Go to PAGE 2- MORE IMAGES
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© Bob Hudson, 1996.