Early Buddhist Art in Northeast Thailand and Central Laos – 7th-12th Centuries
Stephen A. Murphy
300 pages, 232 x 170 mm
Paperback, 300 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 616 7339 19 1
The arrival of Buddhism represents a watershed moment in the origins and development of the early cultures and civilisations of Southeast Asia. New forms of sacred art, iconography and architecture blossomed and the religion acted as a catalyst for social change. In northeast Thailand and central Laos, this is best illustrated by a variety of archaeological, artistic and architectural remains spanning the 7th-12th centuries CE. The material ranges from surviving monastic architecture to votive tablets, inscriptions and Buddha images in stone, bronze or carved into rock-faces. The most comprehensive evidence, however, comes in the form of ornately carved sema, monumental stone boundary markers, which can be decorated with scenes from the Life of the Buddha, past lives or stupa motifs. Settlement patterns, archaeological sites and the region’s river systems also play vital roles in understanding the movement and nature of Buddhism in the Khorat Plateau.
Containing lavish illustrations of the earliest evidence for Buddhism in the region including both freestanding and relief carvings of Buddha images, votive tablets, architectural and archaeological remains and mapping over 100 locations including moated sites, earthen mounds, rock shelters and Buddhist boundary markers, this book sets out to trace the spread and evolution of Buddhism along the Mun, Chi and Mekong river systems of the Khorat Plateau, a region that today encompasses northeast Thailand and lowland areas of central and southern Laos.