3b. Recent Thai Royal Gifts to the United States


Royal Gifts from Thailand

Smithsonian – Gallery 3

Triptika, or Buddhist Doctrine

  • Gift of King Chulalongkorn, 1893
  • Cover is black lacquer with gold leaf design
  • Pages are palm-leaf
  • Department of Anthropology, cat. # E336880
  • 58 cm length x 15 cm width x 6 cm thickness of text

SUPPORT Foundation

  • Small-scale set of baskets
  • Gifts of Queen Sirikit to the Smithsonian Institution, 1982
  • Department of Anthropology, cat. nos: E421961, E421962, E421963, E421964

Illuminated Manuscript of the Phra Malai Sutra

  • Preparing for a Funeral Gift of State, 1966
  • Bicentennial of the Birth of James Smithson, Founder of the Smithsonian.
  • Painted Koi paper
  • Department of Anthropology, cat. no: E404342

The role of the Thai Royal Family as disseminators of Buddhist knowledge continues to this day. In the Library of Congress and many other libraries across the United States and around the world, there are housed hundreds of Royal Gifts in the form of volumes of religious works in Thai and Pali.

The present king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej Maharaj, Rama IX, came to the United States on a State Visit in June of 1960. At that time, he presented the U.S. Library of Congress with an mportant collection of Thai musical instruments. He also presented President Dwight D. Eisenhower with a teak sculpture of a Thai war elephant. This sculpture is kept at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas. On another State Visit to the United States in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson was presented with a beautiful nielloware desk set and a nielloware stand (phan), which are in the collections of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Texas.

In 1981 H.M. Queen Sirikit donated a collection of Thai basketry to the Smithsonian that comprises pieces from Her Majesty’s SUPPORT Foundation, a program that encourages the maintenance of traditional craftways in Thailand. On the occasion of her visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1995, Queen Sirikit also gave the Smithsonian a magnificent model of the Royal Barge Supannahongse and a finely detailed embroidery version of a painting done by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, both created by SUPPORT Foundation artists, as well as some important historic Buddhist manuscripts. This type of Royal Gift serves to turn attention to the people of Thailand and their cultural traditions and to preserve Thai craftmaking traditions.

Gallery 3