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ART

Prehistory in Thailand

Tens of thousand years ago, this land was covered with lush tropical rain forests. The fertile land, temperate climatic conditions, abundant natural resources attracted early settlers and migrants throughtout the subsequent periods, even up to the present. Rich cultures amalgamated into distinct life styles. Emerging out of a thousand years of consciously striving for unity were the T'ai people. City states soon unified into an independent kingdom. Emergent also was a distinct culture known as Thai.

Stone tools and implements of prehistoric man dating to the Paleolithic Period have been found throughout this country. Over 10,000 years ago, man lived near the waterways in the north and central Thailand. Archaeological evidence of Neolithic settlements has been discovered in an area covering no less than 40 provinces. They include tools and decorative objects made of flint, bone and shells. Primitive paintings dating to this period exist in a number of caves. Metal works, both bronze and iron, appeared almost simultaneously some 2,700 years ago.

A part of prehistory in Thailand has become a subject for intensive study shedding new light on the evoluation of man in southeast Asia. "Ban Chiang" used to be the name of a small village in Udonthani Province. Since the discovery that this modern settlement had been founded on top of an area rich in prehistoric archaeological evidence, the name has become well known worldwide and synonymous with an important prehistoric culture.

Ancient Ban Chiang culture existed in scattered areas throughout the Northeastern region of Thailand. The people lived near watersources in dense forests. They gradually cleared the forest for settlements. They hunted with axes, spears, arrows, sling shots and fishing hooks. They cultivated rice in irrigated paddies and learnt to use buffalos in farming. They wove cloth out of natural fibres and might have printed patterns on the fabric by using rollers. They made and wore decorative ornaments such as glass beads, earthenware amulets and bronze bangles. They made stylistic pottery which had applied or and painted decorations both for household use and for ritualistic burial. They became proficient metal workers quite early in prehistory, and discovered the use of iron almost contemporaneous with bronze.

The Ban Chiang people believed in the afterlife. They buried the dead accompanied with personal belongings, perhaps insignia of rank, containers of food and other burial goods. Theirs was a structured society which existed for thousands of years until unknown causes disrupted their stable existence. There is no historical evidence of a direct link with the inhabitants of modern Ban Chiang. who are said to have migrated into the area from Laos some 200 years ago. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the contemporary lifestyle indicate some heritage from the past. However vague this link may be, modern Ban Chiang has benefited from the fame of the ancient people.


Galleries

THAVIBU GALLERY
Silom Galleria, Suite 308 (3rd fl.)
919/1 Silom rd.
Tel. (662) 266 5454
Open: Tue - Sat 11:00 - 19:00, Sundays 12:00 - 18:00, Mondays closed exhibitions.
Specializes in contemporary quality art from Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. Has a permanent collection and organizes regular Paintings for sale.

TANG GALLERY
Silom Galleria, B-28 (Basement)
919/1 Silom rd.
Tel. (662) 630 1114
Open: 11:00 - 19:00 all days
Features regular exhibitions by well known Chinese artists from the mainland. Works for sale.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY
4 Chao Fa Road
Bangkok 10200
Tel. (662) 282 0637
Open: Wednesday - Sunday, 9:00 - 16:00
Has a permanent collection of some well known national artists. Also features regular shows by Thai and non-Thai artists,sometimes for sale.

ART GALLERY, SILAPAKORN UNIVERSITY
Na Phra Lan Road
Bangkok 10200
Tel. (662) 221 5874
Open: Monday - Saturday, 9:00 - 16:30
University gallery with exhibitions mostly by staff and students. Sometimes has works for sale.

BANGKOK UNIVERSITY, ART GALLERY
Rama IV Road
Bangkok 10110
Tel. (662) 671 7526
Open: Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 - 19:30
Private University gallery with regular exhibitions, both Thai and non-Thai. Sometimes has works for sale.

CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY, ART CENTRE
Phyathai Road
Tel. (662) 218 2964 university gallery.
Open: Monday - Friday, 9:00 - 19:00 (Sat. to 16:00)
University Gallery with regular exhibitions, often by Bangkok non-Thai artists. Most progressive Works seldom for sale.

SURAPON GALLERY
Tisco Tower, North Sathorn rd.
Tel. (662) 638 0033/4
Open: Monday - Friday, 10:00 - 19:00 (12:00 - 18:00 Sundays)
Commercial gallery with permanent collection and regular Bangkok exhibitions by well known (often traditional) Thai artists.

PROJECT 304
& Numthong Gallery
Co-op Housing Building, 109 Thoet Damri Rd.
Tel. (662) 243 4326
Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 12:00 - 18:00
Experimental art centre for avant-garde art, often installations and performances. Bangkok Works usually not for sale.

SI-AM ART SPACE
1741 Rama IV Rd.
Tel. (662) 671 6878
Open: Wednesday - Monday, 10:00 - 20:00
Exhibition venue often showing young Thai artists' works.Bangkok Works usually for sale. No permanent collection.

TADU CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY
Royal City Avenue, Rama IX Rd.
Tel. (662) 203 0926
Open: Monday - Saturday, 10:30 - 19:30
Commercial gallery showing works by both well known Thai Bangkok and non-Thai artists. Sometimes has works for sale.

ABOUT STUDIO/CAFE
Maitri Chit Rd.
Tel. (662) 623 1742
Open: Monday - Saturday, 12:00 - 22:00
Art space with a variety, Pom Prap of activities including exhibitions,Bangkok (Chinatown) performances, installations, etc. Works usually not for sale. No permanent collection.

ROTUNDA GALLERY
Surawongse rd.
Tel. (662) 391 4136
Open: 9:30 - 16:00 Tuesday - Saturday (- 14:00 on Sundays) No permanent collection.
Small exhibition space within Nelson Hayes Library an old library.Features regular exhibitions by Thai and non-Thai artists. Works usually for sale.

MERCURY ART GALLERY
Mercury Tower
Ploenchit rd.
Tel. (662) 658 6226
Open: 10:30 - 19:00 (Sunday 12:00 - 18:00)
Commercial gallery with irregular shows by Thai artists. Works usually for sale.

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