Shaping a Nation
Shaping a Nation
Understanding a country as complex as
Thailand is not easy, It requires
some knowledge both of the past and the present a comprehen-
sion of all the changes and forces that have given
this country Its unique civilization.
Thai beliefs, attitudes, political structures and customs have been molded
by a remarkable series of dynamic scholar , innovator- and warrior-kings who
led the nation through severe tests to
emerge as one of Asia's more potent
forces. The paramount feature which
has distinguished their efforts is the Thais'
genius for absorbing outside influences
while retaining their own identity and
fiercely guarding their treasured independence.
||The lotus-bud finial of the elongated
chedi magnificently soars into the sky at
twilight in Sukhothai, the heart of the
first Thai kingdom which flourished 700 years ago.|
Thai history falls into four distinct
periods. The Dvaravati period, which
lasted from the 7th to the 11th centuries,
saw the Thais gradually migrate into
the fertile Chao Phya river basin. Their
emergence as a nation begins with the
Sukhothai period of the 13th and 14th
centuries when the Thais rejected the
authority of the Khmers centered In
Angkor in today's Kampuchea and
created the first Independent Thai Kingdom.
During the Ayutthaya period (14th to 18th centuries)
Thailand rose to become the central kingdom in Southeast
Asia, Envoys came to its courts to seek
relations with the powerful kings, mer-
chants sought to trade for its fabled riches,
scholars came to study its administrative
methods and artistic achievements. It
began to wane in the 17th century and
was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767.
The Bangkok period (from the mid-18th century until the present day) saw
the Thais rise from their devastated kingdom and re-build the country into a
modern state, a major power in the region, with cultural, spiritual and
sociopolitical values uniquely their own.