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Cultural Exchange between India Semiology and Ayutthaya Textile Design: A Case Study of the Stepped Square Pattern | A Talk by Sitthichai Smanchat

About this lecture

Textiles are an important topic in cultural studies because of their universality and mobility. They circulate within specific cultural milieux and also serve as exchange vehicles between cultures. The Indian chintz textiles in the focus of this study inform our understanding of both the history of Indian textiles and their role in Southeast Asia. In Asian arts, the “stepped square” pattern has long been expressed in textile and architectural designs, as well as lacquerware and metal crafts. In Thai textiles, various compositions of this pattern are found in Siamese chintz / “Pha-Lai-Yang” of Indian production, particularly in the Ayutthaya period. However, their multi-dimensions remain unexplored as regards their initial occurrence in Thailand or their cultural exchange routes and related relationships. Despite the “stepped square” pattern being prevalent on Siamese chintz and other art forms, it is rarely found on old textile samples from ancient Indian and Khmer times.

This talk will discuss aspects of the stepped square pattern, including the three key findings from the investigation of Thai Royal textiles, particularly Siamese chintz samples from national museums and royal as well as collections in Thailand: (1) the mythical Mount Meru as the source of the “stepped square” pattern; (2) the existence of seven design compositions of the “stepped square” pattern depicted on Siamese chintz of Indian production; (3) the “stepped square” of Siamese chintz design as representation of the power of the Ayutthaya king and his kingdom, as visual depiction of the centre of the Universe.

There will be a demonstration on proper methods in the wearing of Thai traditional costumes at 18:00, prior to the commencement of the talk.



About the speaker

Assoc Prof Dr Sitthichai Smanchat holds a doctorate from Kala Bhavana, the fine arts faculty of Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal (India), and various other degrees and certificates from Chulalongkorn University, The Japan Foundation (Bangkok) and The Alliance Française (Bangkok). His areas of specialisation include Thai traditional textile history, Thai ikat design and development, Eco textile and fashion, Siamese chintz, Indian textiles and ASEAN handicrafts. Ajarn Sitthichai has curated various exhibitions in Thailand and has lectured extensively in Thailand, India and Japan. He is a published author on textiles and production methods and currently serves as the vice-president of the AHPADA (ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association) of Thailand. He has acted as project consultant/coordinator in numerous projects and his work has been exhibited in Thailand, India and at other venues around the world.



Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 19:00


Lecture Room, 4/Floor, The Siam Society


Members and Students — Free of charge
Non-Members — THB 200

For more information, please contact

Tel. 02-661-6470-3 ext. 203
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To comply with social distancing rules, we must limit the audience to 50 persons. Please book your seat in advance by emailing or phoning your booking to the Society.

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