January 18, 2017

0241, 2930 THAILAND (Sukhothai) - Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (UNESCO WHS)

0241 Sukhothai Historical Park - Wat Mahathat

Posted on 08.06.2012, 18.01.2017
The golden age of an empire contains the seed of his downfall, and the Khmer Empire wasn't a exception. During the reign of Jayavarman VII (1181-1219), the empire reached its maximum expansion (its territory covering the current Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, southern Vietnam - Champa, and part of Malaysia), but also a cultural and spiritual peak. His successor, Indravarman II (r 1219-1243), completed some temples, but as warrior he was less successful, withdrawing from many of the provinces of Champa, and in the west being pushed back by the Thais rebels, who established the Kingdom at Sukhothai.

0241 Sukhothai Historical Park - Buddha image
in the ruins of the ordination hall of Wat Mahathat

Thais (free men), known then as Siameses, weren't natives of the region, but they came from the north, maybe from the Chinese Province of Guangxi, and assimilated many elements of classical indianized civilizations of the Southeast Asia. The Sukhothai Kingdom, located in north central Thailand, existed from 1238 till 1438, and had the capital to Sukhothai, now at 12km outside of New Sukhothai, about 427 km north of Bangkok. The modern national Thai history comprises the history of this kingdom, Sukhothai being considered the first national capital, followed by Ayutthaya, Thonburi until Rattanakosin or today Bangkok.

In 1991 the ruins of the principal centres of the Kingdom of Ram Khamhaeng (Rama the Strong), respectively Sukhothai (the capital), Si Satchanlai (second royal residence), and Kamphaeng Pet, were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the name Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns. "The great civilization which evolved in the kingdom of Sukhothai was a tributary of numerous influences and ancient local traditions, but the rapid assimilation of all these elements forged, in record time, what is known as the Sukhothai style."

The Sukhothai Historical Park, open in 1988, covers the ruins of Sukhothai, literally "Dawn of Happiness". The city walls form a rectangle about 2 km east-west by 1.6 km north-south, and contain 193 ruins. There is a gate in the centre of each wall. Inside are the remains of the royal palace and twenty-six temples, the largest being Wat Mahathat ("Temple of the great relic"), founded by Sri Indraditya, between 1292 and 1347. The design based on Mandala, representing the universe with main principal stupa, built in 1345 to enshrine relics of the Buddha, surrounded by smaller stupas in eight directions.

The main stupa has the graceful shape of a lotus bud, which characterizes the Sukhothai architectural arts. Its base is adorned with 168 stuccoed sculptings of Buddhist disciples walking with their hands clasped together in salutation. The eight smaller stupas, of which the four at the corners are in Mon Haripunchai - Lanna style and the four in between show Khmer influence. At both sides of the main stupa has two 9 metre tall standing Buddha images called Phra Attharot. The temple also comprises assembly hall (vihara), mandapa, ordination hall and 200 subodinate stupas.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0241
The first stamp, depicting Rama IX, is part of a definitive set, about which I wrote here.

The second is part of a series (4 designs with the same value, 5 baht) named Thailand Philatelic Exhibition 2011 Commemorative Stamps - Likay, issued on 4 August 2011, during  national stamp exhibition Thaipex 2011. The stamps feature Likay, or Yikay (in popular language), a folk performing group hired to perform at Buddhist temple's annual fairs or at private houses to celebrate a housewarming, ordination or cremation ceremony.

On the postcard 2930


The first stamp was issued on June 1st, 1997, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. It is the second oldest medical school in Thailand, and was established in 1947 in accordance with the wishes of King Ananda Mahidol to educate a sufficient number of medical doctors to satisfy the public's demands.

The second stamp is part of the series H.M. the King's 6 th Cycle Birthday Anniversary (2nd series), about which I wrote here.

The last stamp is one of the 10 stamps of the series Rattanakosin Bicentenial, issued on April 4, 1982, to celebrate and commemorate the unrivalled role the great Chakri Monarchy have played in fostering the enduring.

References
Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns - UNESCO official website
Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns - Wikipedia
Sukhothai Historical Park - Wikipedia

Sender 0241: Pattama / girlmiracle (postcrossing) TH-92049
Sent from Rangsit (Pathum Thani / Thailand), on 29.12.2011
Sender 2930: Pumipat
Sent from Bangkok (Bangkok / Thailand), on 10.01.2017
Photo; Jatuporn Rutnin

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