Thai literature evolved from a longstanding oral tradition of myths and legends, handed down through the generations. Themes were based on the Ramakien (a Thai version of the Ramayana, one of the great Sanskrit epics of ancient India) and on the Jataka tales, stories of the former lives of the Buddha. Sunthorn Phu was a classical poet of the early 19th century Thai court who wrote renowned romantic epic poems.
In the late 19th century the first modern Thai poetry, short stories, and novels appeared. These works addressed everyday social issues of common Thai people.
Notable 20th-century authors include Phya Anuman Rajadhon (pseudonym Sathira Koses) and Kukrit Pramoj, a former prime minister who wrote acclaimed short stories and novels.
The most celebrated architectural form of Thailand is the wat, the Thai Buddhist temple complex. The wat comprises several buildings that serve the religious needs of the laity and the monastic community. Buddhist structures from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Cambodia influenced the form and decoration of the wat. The temples often have multitiered roofs with rust-colored glazed tiles and overhanging eaves; wooden finials (crowning ornaments) in the shape of mythical beasts; and gold-gilded beams, ridges, and pillars.
Ornamental features are often intricately decorated with mosaics of colored glass, mirrors, porcelain, and inlaid mother-of-pearl. Among the country’s many well-known and greatly admired temples are Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), both in Bangkok. Stone and bronze depictions of the Buddha in sitting, standing, walking, or reclining positions are characteristic Thai sculptural forms. Classic features, such as an oval face and a flamelike protuberance at the head that is seen in works from the Sukhothai period, continue in modern renditions. "Thailand" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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