Paintings of the Book Sastra: Formats, Folklores, Beliefs and Reflections of the Southern Thai Culture during the 20th Century A.D.

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Chutarat Chitsopa


            This article aims to analyze the forms and techniques used in the illustrations of Sastra, the Book of Fortune found in the southern part of Thailand, as well as the ideas and inspirations of the artists. It also explores through the illustrations the relationship between the capital city and southern provinces and the adoption of foreign culture in those provinces. The study is a comparative analysis of Sastra illustrations, mural paintings of the same folklores in Bangkok and contemporary mural paintings in temples in the South.

            Results show that the Sastra illustrations were a combination of Western and Thai traditional drawing techniques. They seemed to be less realistic compared to contemporary mural paintings in the same areas, especially the costumes formatting. However, it is possible that local artists who created the illustrations, mural paintings and shadow puppets might be from the same group of painters or influenced each other, using similar drawing forms and techniques to draw particular characters such as hermits, female characters and some male figures. Furthermore, the culture affecting the way of living among local people was portrayed mainly as costumes fashioned in the reign of King Rama V (1868 - 1910). The artists could have been inspired by the clothes of governors who worked in Nakorn Si Thammarat and Chumporn precincts, as well as officials who accompanied King Rama V to coastal provinces in the South upon his return from travelling abroad. Modernization of postal services and transportation also played indirect roles in cultural diffusion between the capital city and southern provinces.


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