14th-15th century, Kingdom of Ayutthayā
H. 55 cm
At that time, the capital of the kingdom of Ayutthayā was one of the most prosperous in the world, and several foreign powers were eagerly coveting the “kingdom of Siam”. The political situation had indeed changed during the Burmese-Siamese wars, when in 1594 Ayutthayā launched his first offensive invasion of Burma. The early and mid-seventeenth century also saw one of the longest periods of peace after the great military campaigns of the previous three centuries. By 1700, the capital was home to the world’s largest population, estimated at around one million people. During this period of tranquillity, Ayutthayā developed its rich cultural programme, which culminated in the highest concentration of Buddhist art, perhaps anywhere in the world.
The prosperity and power of the Ayutthayā kingdom are reflected in this standing Buddha. A certain tendency towards a decorative style permeated Ayutthayā art from the very beginning, and became more pronounced over the centuries. This decorative aspect reached its peak during the Bangkok period, after 1782. The slender, harmonious silhouette and abstract physiognomy also emphasise the supreme knowledge and awareness that the crowned Buddha embodies in this form, preventing the viewer from concentrating on the mortality of the historical Buddha.
Provenance: Private collection, Germany, acquired from a diplomat in 1975 (by repute).