1226-C Antique Thai Painting from Phra Malai Manuscript

Framed Illustrations from Thai Phra Malai manuscript.

Glass frame on the back allows the script to be seen.

Salvaged from an early 1800s manuscript that could not escape the ravages of time.

Painted on Khoi - a type of paper made from the fiber of the streblus asper shrub. This paper was used for centuries to document Thai history.

The story of the Buddhist saint, Phra Malai, who travels to heaven and hell and shares the insights he learned from Maitreya with fellow monks and the laity, was thought to have been imported from Sri Lanka around the 13th century - about the same time that Sinhalese texts were consulted in creation of the Sukhothai style.

It became one of the most popular subjects of ancient illuminated Thai manuscripts, which were frequently donated to monasteries as acts of merit.

For more information and related examples see Ginsburg, Thai Manuscript Painting, London, 1989. Compare also to a similar manuscript held in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.76.93.2) and a completely digitized version in the British Library (OR 14838). Sept. 18, 2013, Bonham’s auction, Lot 232.