Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
A Manuscript of Buddhist Visions of Heaven and Hell, Phra Malai
A Manuscript of Buddhist Visions of Heaven and Hell, Phra Malai

THAILAND, CIRCA 1850-75

Details
A Manuscript of Buddhist Visions of Heaven and Hell, Phra Malai
Thailand, circa 1850-75
With 96 double-sided foldout leaves written in Thai (with some Pali words cited) in very fine Old-Cambodian script in black ink on five widely spaced ruled lines, with 16 illuminations over two folios, with a colophon stating that the work was commissioned by Mrs. Nio and a Mr. Yim, apparently her son
5 5/8 x 37 in. (14.5 x 68.5 cm.)

Lot Essay

A prevailing theme for illuminated manuscripts is that of the didatic monk, Phra Malai. It recounts his journeys from earth to heaven and hell. At times, Phra Malai manuscripts incorporated illustrations of the Jataka (the birth tales of Buddha) together with those of the Phra Malai monk story itself. The illuminations are as follows: 1. The Four; Monks; 2. Two Divas; 3. Two Divas; 4. Scenes of Hell, on the left Phra Malai descendes into Hell, on the right adulterers are forced into thorny trees by guards armed with spears; 5. On the right a poor peasant picks lotuses in a stream, on the left he presents them to Phra Malai who in turn will present them to the gods in heaven; 6. One of the Jataka, the birth tales of the Buddha: Sama is fetching water from a stream for his blind parents, in the company of a forest deer, when he is shot by the king who takes him for one of the deer; 7. (verso) Phra Malai sits in heaven with the green god Indra (left) while the choirs of Heaven pass by (right); 8. A contrast between the evil life which leads to hell, exemplified by strife and murder (left), and the life of Buddhist contemplation which leads to heaven (right). For further information about Thai manuscripts, see H. Ginsburg, Thai Manuscript Painting, The British Library, 1989.
;

More from INDIAN AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN ART

View All
View All