Symbolic and Cultural Meanings of the Chinese Home Decoration Theme in the Early Rattanakosin Murals of the Reign of King Nangklao in Wat Ratcha Orasaram
This study examines Buddhist artwork to evaluate past human behaviour in terms of cultural adaptation in the second quarter of the 19th century. By integrating interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks and methods from art history, the environmental archaeology of human ecosystems, and the phenomenology of landscape, the CHDT mural at Wat Ratcha Orasaram is found to represent short-term cultural change (the advent of the royal preference) in Siamese society in the process of diversifying cultural selection.
Significantly, enhancing the discussion of such cultural change with phenomenological perspectives, this research discloses the power of images, the hierarchy of art, the function of murals, and human cultural-environmental interactions, defined here as phenomena of cultural change, which disclose more dynamic cultural adaptation and can be evaluated via interdisciplinary investigation drawing on philosophical theory, environmental archaeology, and art history to reveal the response of humans to cultural changes. This cultural change was the result of dynamic Siamese cultural adaptation as an active response to Chinese influence on ideas and style identified with the monarchic power of a pious king, Nangklao, and his Sinophilia. Various Chinese cultural elements, including murals of the Chinese decoration theme and Chinesestyle architecture, were adapted for royal Buddhist temples under the patronage of the king and aristocrats during the Third Reign.