Traveling the Three Worlds

Dear all,

Here’s one event you might consider attending during the Songkran/Easter holidays if you’re in London na ka 🙂 Happy Songkran and Easter in advance! 🙂

The British Library and the Royal Thai Embassy request the pleasure of your company at:

A lecture on ‘Traveling the Three Worlds’ (A memorial lecture in honour of Dr. Henry Ginsburg (1940-2007), late Curator of Thai manuscripts at the British Library)

On Wednesday 15 April 2009 at 6.30pm, The British Library Conference Centre.

Delivered by John Guy (Senior Curator South & Southeast Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

This lecture explores the art of Thai manuscript painting through the extraordinary world of Thai Buddhist cosmologies, canonical and non-canonical Buddhist tales, astrologies, divination manuals, and other literary genres which supported the pictorial tradition. Most Thai Buddhists first encounter Thai traditional painting in the murals on the interior of their monastery, where the Jataka stories of the previous lives of the Buddha, or scenes from the historical Buddha’s life, are most frequently illustrated in a continuous narrative mode. Long banner paintings were in the past hung on festival occasions, illustrating scenes pertinent to the Buddhist calendar. Finally, richly painted manuscripts, both of palm-leaf and concertina-folded khoi paper, provided an important genre of painting, largely for the predilection of the monastic community who alone had access to these works, both as ordination manuals (Kammavaca) and as texts for teaching the dharma to the lay community.

The story of Thai Buddhist painting will be traced from its origins in the Ayutthaya period through into the Ratanakosin (Bangkok) era, when large libraries were created of finely painted manuscripts and elaborate mural programmes were commissioned in royal temples, under the patronage of royal donors.

The lecture will be followed by a reception 7.30-8.30pm 🙂

RSVP by 6th April. Telephone: 0207 412 7717. Email:


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