The Heritage of Thai Sculpture


Jean Boisselier.


Jean Boisselier, Professor of the Sorbonne and Director of the French Archaeological Mission in Thailand, The Heritage of Thai Sculpture, with commentaries by Jean-Michel Beurdeley and photographs by Hans Hinz (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1975), first English language edition translated by James Emmons from the original French edition of 1974, large quarto, 270 pages, 40 tipped-in full-page colour Plates, 129 b/w photographs, line illustrations, maps, 29.5 x 25.8 x 4 cm, full-page colour tipped-in frontispiece, hard cover, full colour illustrated dust jacket, weight 2.44 kg. Contents; Foreword; Introduction—The History, Geography and Religions of Thailand; Part One: The Spirit and Character of Thai Sculpture, Introduction, I: Permanent Characteristics, II: Techniques and Their Imperatives; Part Two: The Schools of Sculpture, Introduction, Early Images, Dvaravati School, Srivijaya School, Lopburi School, Sukhothai School, School of Lan Na or Chieng Sèn, Ayuthya School, School of Thonburi and Bangkok; Conclusions; Appendices: I, The Buddha Image; II, The Wheels of the Law; Advice to Collectors; Notes; Commentaries on the Illustrations; Glossary; Bibliography; General Map of Thailand; City Plans of Ayuthya and Sukhothai; Chronological Tables; Index.

Condition: Fine, except for a narrow, vertical light discolouration down centre of rear free endpaper and inside back cover, slight occasional toning on inside front cover.

With its monumental scholarship and sensitive insights, this book set a benchmark for Western-world studies of more than 15 centuries of Thai sculpture. Part I defines the essential aesthetic principles of Thai sculpture, identifying fundamental features that changed little with time or locality; the religious spirit motivating sculptors; examines their available materials;  and the most frequently employed techniques. Part II identifies individual schools in broadly chronological terms, noting linking and crucially different features. The book covers work from the earliest Malay Peninsula sculpture from the 4th century AD to the 20th century non-Western sculpture of Bangkok, using recent archaeological findings and art historical research.

The book’s author, Jean Boisselier (1912-1996), the son of the painter Henri Boisselier, was first a drawing teacher whose early ambition was to study Cambodian art. Jean Boisselier became a leading world authority on the art and archaeology of South-East Asia, a notable Khmer scholar and a member (1949-1955) of the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) responsible for the restoration of Angkor. He was appointed Curator of the Museum of Phnom-Penh. Many of Boisselier’s books and articles pay particular attention to Thai sculpture.