It is my great privilege to write this Foreword to That Art by Dr. Promsak Jermsawatdi, a brilliant product of the University of Magadh, whom any teacher can be proud of. The Thai art has its own peculiarities but unfortunately there was hitherto no full, systematic and elaborate account of it, though some previous scholars mainly Thai scholars had shed light on particular aspects of the early and medieval art of Thailand. But these works were comparatively few in number, and I am glad that it is one of my former students who has striven to remove this long-felt want.
When the author came to me after taking his M.A. degree with first position in First Class for a suggestion about the topic of his research, I told him to take up the scientific study of the art-history of his own country. It is gratifying to me that he accepted my suggestion and devoted wholeheartedly to the pursuit of this subject. He worked ceaselessly with a great deal of earnestness and I had the privilege of seeing him at his work from time to time. His efforts, I am glad, have been crowned with success.
Attention may be called to some special features of the present volume. The latest available information regarding Indo-Thai finds is embodied; the early architecture as embodied in reliefs has been rather fully described and illustrated; the origin of the Buddha image is discussed in some detail and a synthetic survey of farther Indian and Thai arts is for the first time successfully attempted. It may be remarked that the author has personally visited most of the sites and museums referred to in this work. It is really a genuine piece of research characterized by an innate sense of deep study and devotion.
Dr. Promsak Jermsawatdi, I need hardly add, has done a great service to his country for which the scholars of Thailand and outside should be thankful to him. His painstaking and scholarly work will no doubt receive due appreciation from the learned historians and Indologists all the world over. I am sure, the publication of this work go a long way in cementing the age-old cultural ties between Thailand and India.
Southeast Asia consists of tropical lands and waters to the immediate south of China and east of India. The region of South-East Asia has two distinct parts: 1. The Peninsula and 2. The Islands, which form a horseshoe around the Peninsula and also serve as a series of stepping stones to Australia. Indonesia and the Philippines are archipelagoes containing thousands of islands. Malaysia consists of Malaya as well as Sabah and Sarawak, which are situated on the island of Borneo. There are six countries located exclusively on the peninsula namely North and South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand, which was formerly known as Siam.
Siam or Thailand is one of the Southeast Asian countries, which is situated right in the middle of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula. To the north of Thailand lie China and Laos, the latter being adjacent to the northeast frontier. It is separated from Thailand by two sections of Mekong River. On the west and northwest, it is bounded by Burma and on the east by Cambodia and Vietnam. On the south-east it is surrounded by Cambodia, while on the south its border goes deep into the Malay peninsula between the China Sea and the Bay of Bengal touching Malaysia.
The total area of Thailand is roughly 5,13,000 square kilometers, and the land area approximately 2,00,000 square kilometers. The country also has extensive coastlines on the Gulf of Siam and Strait of Malacca.
From the Jacket:
The present book, Thai Art with Indian Influences, studies the subject in its different spheres. As a major pioneering scholar in the field, Dr. Promsak Jermsawatdi possesses an extraordinary background in art history, aesthetics and Asian history and philosophy. This fascinating study is one of his finest works which will continue to be regarded as one of the most significant contributions to our understanding of Thai and Indian art for a long time to come.
Divided into five chapters, the book takes into account material from the earliest archaeological finds through the Bangkok period including the early art and craft works. Most of the study deals with Thai art but India and the peripheries of South-East Asia and covered where they reflect Indian influences. The focus of this study is upon architecture, sculpture and iconography. However, it also encompasses other aspects of art and crafts. Background information on the history and geography of the area is also provided along with philosophical, religious and social insights that are significantly valuable to readers in general and those of South-East Asia and India in particular.
As student of ancient history and art in India, Dr. Promsak Jermasawatdi was deeply sensitive to the beauty of Thai and Indian art works. As a result, the illustrations he has selected are usually pertinent and fitting, comprising some of the most impressive examples of Thai art, Students of the history of Oriental art could ask for no finer exposition of the history and aesthetics of Thai and Indian art. The author's penetrating cultural insights make it an indispensable text for all who plan further study in the field. This is also a book which general readers will read great interest and pleasure.
About the Author:
Dr. Promsak Jermsawatdi was born on March 20, 1945. He completed his higher school education at Cholratdhonaumrung and Cholkunyanukul Schools in Cholburi, respectively. From 1964, he studied for the B.A. in the Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and he passed the examination in 1968.
In March, 1970, he came to India for further study at the M.A. level, and he took part in postgraduate study in the Department of Ancient Indian and Asian Studies, Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya, Gaya, Bihar during the years 1969-1971. In February, 1972, he passed the M.A. Examination and was placed First in the First Class with distinction. He also won the University Gold Medal for the session, 1969-1971.
After the completion of the M.A. course, the author undertook research work for his Ph.D. degree at the same Department of Ancient Indian and Asian Studies, Magadh University, under the supervision of Dr. Prof. Upendra Thakur of the Magadh University. The topic of his research work was "Thai Art with particular reference to Indian Influences". From September, 1973, he was the only Thai Research Scholar who was working under the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme, 1973-74, of the Government of India. His Ph.D. thesis, described as one of the best written on the subject, will throw an altogether new light on this hitherto neglected subject and it will go a long way in cementing the age-old cultural ties between India and Thailand.
In May, 1975, Dr. Promsak passed the Ph.D. Examination and returned to his country. He is now working in the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, as a Lecturer in History of Arts and Archaeology.
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