Celebrating Rattanakosin art

Celebrating Rattanakosin art

The Year of the Rabbit provides an occasion for the “Gilded Black Lacquer Cabinet” exhibition at the historic Thaworawatthu Building to present a new collection, the majority of which is featured in the Gold-Motif Cabinets: Series 2 (Rattanakosin Era) Book 1.

Ideal for art students and those interested in Thailand’s rich history and cultural legacy, the exhibition was first introduced in 2019 with a focus on classic designs from the Ayutthaya and Thon Buri periods to honour Thailand’s top-notch craftsmanship. This time around, it has shifted to Rattanakosin-style art to demonstrate how artisans maintained customs and local knowledge through religious artworks as times changed.

With limited space, the exhibition displays a rare selection of 47 gilded black lacquered cabinets from the Somdet Phra Narai National Museum in Lop Buri as well as the treasury of the National Library of Thailand on Samsen Road and the National Museums in Pathum Thani.

“The first printing of Gold-Motif Cabinets: Series 2 (Rattanakosin Era) Book 1 was published in 1986 and included black-and-white images of cabinets. But this reproduction will contain a selection of colourful images to show sophisticated patterns, and readers and art students can attend this exhibition to learn from the original ones,” said Siwaporn Chalermsri, ancient language officer at the National Library of Thailand.

Back in the reign of King Rama V, HRH Prince Damrong Rajanubhab served as the interior minister and came across several gilded black lacquer cabinets while travelling around the country for the construction of infrastructure projects.

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