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The Buddha in LannaArt, Lineage, Power, and Place in Northern Thailand$
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Angela S. Chiu

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824858742

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824858742.001.0001

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Buddha Images as Objects of Transferrable Power

Buddha Images as Objects of Transferrable Power

The Physical and Social Processes of Copying Images

(p.160) Chapter Seven Buddha Images as Objects of Transferrable Power
The Buddha in Lanna

Angela S. Chiu

University of Hawai'i Press

Modern scholars explain the development of Thai Buddhist art as driven by a long-standing tradition of copying revered models. Nonetheless, how people of the past determined which models to copy has been deliberated by only by a handful of scholars. The work of A. B. Griswold, M.L. Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Piriya Krariksh and Stanley Tambiah indicates the interplay of doctrine, politics and prestige which influenced which Buddha images were most revered and copied. Evidence from chronicles shows that powerful statues were not visually distinctive, a positive characteristic that facilitated copying. Images were usually described by their material, weight and size, which reflect the donor’s financial outlay and therefore merit-generating potential of the image. The limited set of iconographies facilitated the comparison of statues in this monastic ‘economy’ of donation and merit exchange. Though the Buddha image was ‘singularized’ by its enshrinement, it was still understood as a ‘commoditized’ object.

Keywords:   A. B. Griswold, Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Piriya Krairiksh, Stanley Tambiah, Igor Kopytoff, singularization, commoditization, iconography

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