Thailand. Ratanakosin Style, c. 19th century The trident, serpent and half-moon tucked into the coiffure identify this statue with Shiva, one of three supreme Hindu divinities. But, in fact, it is a representation of a previous life of the Buddha when he is said to have been born as Shiva. Art often operates as though it were a form of visual arithmetic, although the logic in operation is mythical, rather than mathematical: Buddha plus Shiva, therefore, equals something greater than just the simple sum of its parts. Here the Buddha-Shiva image combines the literary refinement of Vedanta philosophy with the ethics of the Buddhist Eight-fold Path. The trident stands for the three primary evils which Shiva will destroy in order to advance his disciples towards the divine. They are the evils of anger, lust and pride. On the other hand, the monastic robes and vitarka (Teaching) mudra, both of which are virtually unknown in traditional Shiva images, associate this figure with the Buddhist monastic order that prevails in South-east Asia. The treatment of the snake provides another example of the syncretic tendency that emerged in mature phase of Thai art. The late Saivite tradition interpreted the serpent as a symbol of control over sensuality and desire - a sharp departure from its original function as the juju of primeval vitality that accounts for the mysteries of female fertility - to bring the image more line with rational Buddhist ethics. In this image the Shivaite serpent is represented in the form of a Thai naga. Such composite figures are an example of cosmopolitanism that shaped the arts and literature of the late Ayutthaya and early Bangkok periods. (RN)
Bronze Each piece you see here is made individually by our master artisans. The craftsmanship involved creates slight variations in color, finish, size, and shape - a quality we consider to be an added touch of uniqueness. The remarkable detail of our bronze sculptures is due to meticulous and labor-intensive care by Thai craftsmen to produce these unique sculptures of exquisite detail and timeless durability. Buffing, polishing, and patinising give each piece its final green-grey verdigris or bronze luster, which conveys the essence of what we at Eastern Serenity admire in South-East Asian art.