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Wed 26 Apr 2017
Thai Traditional Literature
Written by National Culture Commission   
Friday, 09 February 2007 02:15
Thai Traditional Literature is essentially religious. Most of the literature in the old days consisted of works on Buddhism and Hinduism directly or indirectly. Whatever culture the Thai people brought with them from thier homeland in Southern China where they had been in contact with Chinese culture for centuries was adapted to its later conception of Buddhism, their adopted religion. Traces of their original culture may be found here and there in a disguised and weak form embedded in their literature. Most of the works of emotive literature were written in veerse in various patterns. Five prominent examples of such works may be cited briefly.

Khun Chang Khun Phaen1. The Romance of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, an indigenous story of love and pathos, at time humourous, of a triangular love plot of one heroine with two lovers. The story, apart from its beautiful expressions, contains a mine of infomation on old beliefs and social customs of the Thai before the impact of Western culture. The story as is known has been traslated into English and French.

2. Ramakian (or Ramakirti in transliteration) is the story based on the famous Indian epic, Ramayana. It is unique, containing many episodes and details which are not to be found in the original epic, but showing traces of contact with certain versions of the Ramayana in India, Malaysia, Java and Cambodia. There is an English translation.

Phra Aphaimani3. The Romance of Inao. This is a translation from the well-known storty of adventures of the national Javanese hero prince. It is written in a refined and perfect style of the Thai Language and meant for dramatic performance.

4. Sam Kok. This is a translation from San Kuo Chi, a Chinese historical romance of the Three Kingdoms. Unlike the three preceeding ones, it is written in prose with perfect expressions of style of the language.

5. Phra Aphaimani. This is a romantic tale written in verse by one of the most famous and popular poets of Thailand. It is an imaginary tale of love, intrigue and adventure, and reflects some ideas of the people towards the Europeans of the last century. There is an English translation in concise form by one Prem Chaya.

The employment of prose in Thai emotive literature along the lines of the Western style is of recent date due obviously to the influence of Western literature.


Information from: "Essays on Cultural Thailand" by Office of the National Culture Commission.