Iconography of Phra Bhaisajyaguru Sculpture in Thailand

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Thanut Thampituck

Abstract

Phra Bhaisajyaguru Vaitoonprapha or Phra Bhaisajyaguru, also knownas the Medicine Buddha (God of Medicine) is one of the Buddha inBuddhism. In the old days, Phra Bhaisajyaguru was not widelyrecognized, and sculpture of this Medicine Buddha was neverdiscovered in India where Buddhism originated.

When the belief related to the Medicine Buddha spread to China,the establishment of Phra Bhaisajyaguru became more clearly definedand appeared in the scriptures which recorded the determination ofPhra Bhaisajyaguru, the methodology of image creation and buildingsfor the Buddha image to be situated. This belief was extensivelydistributed to Japan, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand.

In Thailand, the belief of Phra Bhaisajyaguru appeared in 3 periods.
1. In 18th Century when Thailand was influenced by Cambodia during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. Phra Bhaisajyaguru’s images found inThailand were similar to the image form of Buddha sheltered in Nagahood influenced by the belief of the Khmer culture.
2. The second period, Phra Bhaisajyaguru was found during the Reignof King Rama 5 (King Chulalongkorn) of Bangkok Period.
3. The third period was during between 2007 and 2016 in the reignof King Rama 9, Phra Bhaisajyaguru’s images were combined withTheravada Buddhism belief which resulted in having the imagescreated in varied formations. However, Thai Buddhism arts are morerevealed, such as the Thai facial structure and robed which appearedsimilar to Thai Buddhist monks.

In Thailand, the representation of Thai Buddhist arts is in accordanceof iconology of Phra Bhaisajyaguru’s image which comprised of Thaifacial structure, accessories, and robes. In essence, Phra Bhaisajyaguru’simage has a pot of medicine on the palm of the image as the significanticonology.

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How to Cite
Thampituck, T. (2019). Iconography of Phra Bhaisajyaguru Sculpture in Thailand. Walailak Journal of Social Sciences, 12(1), 147-174. Retrieved from https://www.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/wjss/article/view/199546
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