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A Brief History of Thai Architecture

Thai architectural style has been influenced primarily by Indian and Khmer architecture, although China and other countries have had impact as well (Thai people have been thought to have emigrated from South China).

Most early Thai architecture was built of wood and has since disappeared.  However, many stone temples remain to tell the story of the development of Thai architecture.  Like Khmer architecture, many structures of Sukhothai used sandstone for door parts, lintels, and rectangular windows.  In the twelfth century, brick replaced sandstone as a primary building material. It was mortared with vegetable glue and sheathed in stone.  Later, stucco was used to cover the brick core.

Materials used in Thai Religious Architecture:

  • Wood
  • Glass Mosaic
  • Gold-Leaf
  • Porcelain
  • Stucco
  • Lacquer
  • Inlaid Mother of Pearl

The history of Thailand has been categorized into five historical periods which have had their own influence on the development of a Thai architectural style:

  • Nanchao (Dvaravati & Khmer), 650-1250 AD
  • Sukhothai (Sukhodaya), 1238-1378 AD
  • Ayutthaya (Ayudhya), 1350-1767 AD
  • Thonburi (Tonburi), 1767-1772 AD
  • Bangkok (Rattanakosin), 1782-

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Phra Prang at Wat Maha That, Sukhothai showing Khmer influence framed by a doorway with Thai details

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Door at Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Bangkok showing the elaborate materials and detail of Thai architecture

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