Exquisite Artistic Heritage: the Nation’s Painting That Should Be Conserved
Mural paintings are invaluable examples of fine art – the heritage that reflects our forefather’s wisdom that has been handed down to their descendants from one generation to the next. Thailand is blessed with exquisite artistic heritage in every part and every region of the country. Ancient buildings are decorated with paintings which have passed the test of time. It is thus common that they have gone through a degree of deterioration due to time, weather conditions, the environment, modification, wrong repairing methods by users of the buildings or their lack of understanding and their inability to realize the value of the paintings. The conservation of paintings, which are part of our cultural heritage, is involved with restoring them to their original condition and is not merely the duty of those who have a direct responsibility, which is a role played by government authorities, but also a duty and opportunity for those who are ready to use their potential to help paintings to survive from one generation to another and to stand as a medium that reflects the country’s civilized character.
The Wedding Ceremony of Prince Sutthothana and Princess Sirimahamaya
Venue: The Buddhaisawan Chapel, the Phranakhon National Museum in Bangkok
Location: The western wall of the 1st exhibition hall
Size: 248 centimetres high, 188 centimetres wide
Original painting: A painting of the early Ratanakosin Period (painted in the reign of King Buddhayodfah Chulalok the Great)
Replica: Created in 2009, at present exhibited in the National Gallery (Hor Silp Chao Fah)
Technique: Images printed on ceramic panels of special size, which have gone through a baking process at a temperature of 1,300 degree Celsius.
The Wedding Ceremony of Prince Sutthothana and Princess Sirimahamaya is the scene depicted from mural painting inside Buddhaisawan Chapel of National Museum, Bangkok; portrayed the marriage of Sakkaya Prince and Koliya Princess when they were 16 at Asoka Garden, Thevathaha City. Buddhist Assembly described the scene as accompany by Dhevas, Brahma and Indra beside the families of two dynasties. The painter in Bangkok Period created the picture with important figures in the center- Prince Sutthothana and Princess Sirimahamaya-inside the building surrounded with Dhevas as well as the bride and groom’s families.
The project for copying the painting of “The Wedding Ceremony of Prince Sutthothana and Princess Sirimahamaya” originated from the collaboration between Ceramica Image and the Painting and Sculpture Conservation Group Work at the office of Archaeology in the Department of Fine Arts, whose mission is to repair, make copies of and restore paintings to allow them to recover their original condition. This is done through the craftsmanship of artisans of the olden days who once created intricate designs. Yet, this has to be combined with new technology and modern concepts in order to create a replica that is close to the original in all its features. Attempts to conserve artistic works that have been around for a long time can be done by making copies of the originals that will enable them to remain for a long time.
Ceramica Image Company Limited has thus come up with a conservation method of advanced imaging technology which makes copies of the mural paintings and prints these copied images on ceramic panels of the same size as the original. The details of the newly created piece are similar to those of the original and they remain permanently. The printed image can be installed or stored elsewhere. This advanced knowledge in making copies of world heritage masterpieces, for example, invaluable paintings from museums and faraway places, will give the general public a chance to come into close contact with and appreciate these artworks. This project is considered to be the beginning of the development of a conservation prototype of artworks which will help to conserve traditional Thai paintings – our national assets – and preserve them as important historical records forever.
At present, the printed image of ceramic of the painting, “The Wedding Ceremony of Prince Sutthotana and Princess Sirimahamaya” on Wall 1, remains in perfect condition. It is still beautiful, durable and suitable in representing precious Thai art although it has been eleven years since the printing was presented to the National Gallery (Hor Siph Chao Fah) in 2009.