The Dvaravati (Thai: ทวารวดี, RTGSThawarawadi; Khmer: ទ្វារវត្តី - Tvearvottey) period lasted from around the 6th to the 11th century in what is now Thailand. Dvaravati refers to a culture, an art style, and a disparate conglomerate of principalities. Archaeological research over the past two decades or so has revealed the presence of a "proto-Dvaravati" period which spans the 4th-5th century, and perhaps earlier.[1]

Territory of Dvaravati.
Mon Wheel of the Law (Dharmacakra), art of Dvaravati period, c. 8th century CE.
British Museum Asia 3 (cropped)
Buddha, art of Dvaravati period, c. 9th century CE.
Bronze double denarius of the Gallic Roman emperor Victorinus (269-271 AD) found at U Thong, Thailand.


The culture of Dvaravati was based around moated cities, the earliest of which appears to be U Thong in what is now Suphan Buri Province. Other key sites include Nakhon Pathom, Phong Tuk, Si Thep, Khu Bua and Si Mahosot, amongst others.[2] Legends engraved on royal urns report the following kings: Suryavikrama (673-688), Harivikrama (688-695), Sihavikrama (695-718).[3] A Khmer inscription dated 937 documents a line of princes of Chanasapura started by a Bhagadatta and ended by a Sundaravarman and his sons Narapatisimhavarman and Mangalavarman.[4] But at that time, the 10th century, Dvaravati began to come under the influence of the Khmer Empire and central Thailand was ultimately invaded by King Suryavarman II in the first half of the 12th century.[5] Hariphunchai survived its southern progenitors until the late 13th century, when it was incorporated into Lan Na.[6]

The people of the region used the Mon language, but whether they were Mon people is unknown. There is evidence that these principalities may comprise many cultural groups of people, including Malays and Khmer people. The theory of Thai migration into Dvaravati has been refuted and is now known to have happened much later.

The term Dvaravati derives from coins which were inscribed in Sanskrit śrī dvāravatī. The Sanskrit word dvāravatī means "that which has gates"[7]:301 (from dvāra "door, gate, entrance"). Its name may derive from the city of Dvārakā in ancient India.

Little is known about the administration of Dvaravati. It might simply have been a loose gathering of chiefdoms rather than a centralised state, expanding from the coastal area of the upper peninsula to the riverine region of Chao Phraya River. Hinduism and Buddhism were significant. The three largest settlements appear to have been at Nakhon Pathom, Suphanburi, Praak Srigacha, with additional centers at U Thong, Chansen, Khu Bua, Pong Tuk, Muang Phra Rot, Lopburi, Si Mahasod, Kamphaeng Saen, Dong Lakhorn, U-Taphao, Ban Khu Muang, and Sri Thep.[7]:303–312

The traditional chronology of Dvaravati is mainly based on the Chinese textual account and stylistic comparison by art historians. However, the results from excavations in Chansen and Tha Muang mound at U-Thong raise questions about the traditional dating. Newly dated typical Dvaravati cultural items from the site of U-Thong indicate that the starting point of the tradition of Dvaravati culture may possibly date as far back to 200 CE.[8] [9] Archaeological, art historical, and epigraphic (inscriptions) evidence all indicate, however, that the main period of Dvaravati spanned the seventh to ninth centuries.[10] Dvaravati culture and influence also spread into Isan and parts of lowland Laos from the sixth century onward. Key sites include Mueang Fa Daet in Kalasin Province and Mueang Sema in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.[11]


Dvaravati itself was heavily influenced by Indian culture, and played an important role in introducing Buddhism and particularly Buddhist art to the region. Stucco motifs on the religious monuments include garudas, makaras, and Nāgas. Additionally, groups of musicians have been portrayed with their instruments, prisoners, females with their attendants, soldiers indicative of social life. Votive tablets have also been found, also moulds for tin amulets, pottery, terracotta trays, and a bronze chandelier, earring, bells and cymbals.[7]:306–308


  1. ^ Murphy, Stephen A. (October 2016). "The case for proto-Dvāravatī: A review of the art historical and archaeological evidence". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 47 (3): 366–392. doi:10.1017/s0022463416000242. ISSN 0022-4634.
  2. ^ Murphy, Stephen A. (October 2016). "The case for proto-Dvāravatī: A review of the art historical and archaeological evidence". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 47 (3): 366–392. doi:10.1017/s0022463416000242. ISSN 0022-4634.
  3. ^ Coedés 1968, p. 86
  4. ^ Coedés 1968, p. 122
  5. ^ "The Mon-Dvaravati Tradition of Early North-Central Thailand". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  6. ^ David K. Wyatt and Aroonrut Wichienkeeo. The Chiang Mai Chronicle, p.33
  7. ^ a b c Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443
  8. ^ Glover, I. (2011). The Dvaravati Gap-Linking Prehistory and History in Early Thailand. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association, 30, 79-86.
  9. ^ Murphy, Stephen A. (October 2016). "The case for proto-Dvāravatī: A review of the art historical and archaeological evidence". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 47 (3): 366–392. doi:10.1017/s0022463416000242. ISSN 0022-4634.
  10. ^ Murphy, Stephen A. (October 2016). "The case for proto-Dvāravatī: A review of the art historical and archaeological evidence". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 47 (3): 366–392. doi:10.1017/s0022463416000242. ISSN 0022-4634.
  11. ^ Murphy, Stephen A. (2013). "Buddhism and its Relationship to Dvaravati Period Settlement Patterns and Material Culture in Northeast Thailand and Central Laos c. Sixth–Eleventh Centuries a.d. : A Historical Ecology Approach to the Landscape of the Khorat Plateau". Asian Perspectives. 52 (2): 300–326. doi:10.1353/asi.2013.0017. ISSN 1535-8283.


  • G. Coedès (1968), The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press
  • Stephen A. Murphy, "Buddhism and its Relationship to Dvaravati Period Settlement Patterns and Material Culture in Northeast Thailand and Central Laos c. Sixth–Eleventh Centuries a.d. : A Historical Ecology Approach to the Landscape of the Khorat Plateau", Asian Perspectives, Volume 52, Number 2, Fall 2013, pp. 300-326.
  • Stephen A. Murphy, "The case for proto-Dvāravatī: A review of the art historical and archaeological evidence," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Volume 47, Issue 3, October 2016 , pp. 366-392.

Further reading

  • Robert L. Brown, The Dvaravati Wheels of the Law and the Indianization of South East Asia. Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology, Vol. 18, Fontein, Jan, ed. Leiden and New York: E. J. Brill, 1996.
  • Elizabeth Lyons, “Dvaravati, a Consideration of its Formative Period”, R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia: Essays in Archaeology, History and Historical Geography, Oxford University Press, New York, 1979, pp. 352–359.
  • Dhida Saraya, (Sri) Dvaravati: the Initial Phase of Siam's History, Bangkok, Muang Boran, 1999, ISBN 974-7381-34-6
  • Swearer, Donald K. and Sommai Premchit. The Legend of Queen Cama: Bodhiramsi's Camadevivamsa, a Translation and Commentary. New York: State University of New York Press, 1998. ISBN 0-7914-3776-0
  • สุรพล ดำริห์กุล, ประวัติศาสตร์และศิลปะหริภุญไชย, กรุงเทพฯ: สำนักพิมพ์เมืองโบราณ, 2004, ISBN 974-7383-61-6.
  • Pierre Dupont, The Archaeology of the Mons of Dvāravatī, translated from the French with updates and additional appendices, figures and plans by Joyanto K.Sen, Bangkok, White Lotus Press, 2006.
  • Jean Boisselier, “Ū-Thòng et son importance pour l'histoire de Thaïlande [et] Nouvelles données sur l'histoire ancienne de Thaïlande”, Bōrānwitthayā rư̄ang MỮang ʻŪ Thō̜ng, Bangkok, Krom Sinlapakon, 2509 [1966], pp. 161–176.
  • Peter Skilling, "Dvaravati: Recent Revelations and Research", Dedications to Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra on her 80th birthday, Bangkok, The Siam Society, 2003, pp. 87–112.
  • Natasha Eilenberg, M.C. Subhadradis Diskul, Robert L. Brown (editors), Living a Life in Accord with Dhamma: Papers in Honor of Professor Jean Boisselier on his Eightieth Birthday, Bangkok, Silpakorn University, 1997.
  • C. Landes, “Pièce de l’époque romaine trouvé à U-Thong, Thaïlande”, The Silpakorn Journal, vol.26, no.1, 1982, pp. 113–115.
  • John Guy, Lost Kingdoms: Hindu Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast, New York and Bangkok, Metropolitan Museum of Art and River Books, 2014, p. 32.
  • Wārunī ʻŌsathārom. Mư̄ang Suphan bon sēnthāng kan̄plīanplǣng thāng prawattisāt Phutthasattawat thī 8 - ton Phutthasattawat thī 25 (History, development, and geography of the ancient city of Suphan Buri Province, Central Thailand, 8th-25th B.E.), Samnakphim Mahāwitthayālai Thammasāt, Krung Thēp, 2547.

External links

Media related to Dvaravati at Wikimedia Commons:

Aboti Brahmin

The Aboti Brahmin are a Brahmin community who were recorded living in Rajasthan, India, around 1228 CE (1306 VS), where they were usually temple servants and had migrated from Dvaravati. Today, they are found in the state of Gujarat and some at least continue to work as temple servants. They perform puja at the Dwarkadhish Temple in Dwarka during the Hindu festival of Janmashtami.

Bang Pakong River

The Bang Pakong (Thai: แม่น้ำบางปะกง, RTGS: Maenam Bang Pakong, pronounced [mɛ̂ː.náːm bāːŋ pā.kōŋ]) is a river in east Thailand. The river originates at the confluence of the Nakhon Nayok River and the Prachinburi River at Pak Nam Yothaka in Ban Sang District, Prachinburi Province. It empties after 231 kilometres into the Gulf of Thailand at the northeastern tip of the Bay of Bangkok. The watershed of the Bang Pakong is about 17,000 square kilometres (6,600 sq mi). The river powers a power station near its mouth, near Highway 7.

To protect the Irrawaddy dolphins, fishermen on the Bang Pakong River have been persuaded by authorities to stop shrimping and 30 to 40 fishing boats have been modified so they can offer dolphin sightseeing tours.Dvaravati settlements include Muang Phra Rot, Dong Si Maha Pht, Dong Lakhon, and Ban Khu Muang. Dvaravati coins have been found at U-Tapao.This river is known locally as Chachoengsao Province, Jolo River (แม่น้ำโจ้โล้, Chinese: 尖吻河, pinyin: jiān wěn hé), which Jolo (尖吻) is the Teochew dialect, refers to the barramundi (Lates calcarifer) because of the abundance of this species of fish. The famous temples along the river are Wat Pak Nam Jolo and Wat Sothonwararam.

Buddha images in Thailand

A Buddha image in Thailand typically refers to three-dimensional stone, wood, clay, or metal cast images of the Buddha. While there are such figures in all regions where Buddhism is commonly practiced, the appearance, composition and position of the images vary greatly from country to country.

Dvaravati art

Dvaravati art is a form of artistic work originating from Thailand. Dvaravati flourished from the Dvaravati era of Thai history from ca. 6th to the 13th century.

Dvaravati sila

The Dvararvati Sila is a type of Sila or coral stone obtained from the Gomati river (Gomti River) in Dvaraka. Dvaraka is located in the Jamnagar District of Gujarat at the mouth of the Gomati River as it debouches into the Gulf of Kutch. The city lies in the westernmost part of India. In ancient Sanskrit literature Dvaraka was called Dvarawati and was rated as one of the seven most prehistoric cities in the country. Thus, the Sila or the stone obtained at the mouth of the Gomati river is called the Dvaravati Sila and is worshipped.

Dvaraka Silas are coral with chakra (wheel) markings and the chakra-mark is the most distinguishing feature of these stones, and hence they are called ‘chakrankita-sila’.Aniconic representation of God is by a symbol rather than an image. Indian art overwhelmingly prefers the iconic image, but some aniconism does occur in folk worship, in early Hinduism in the form of Vishnu's Saligrama Sila (murthi) (fossil stone), Dvaravati Sila (coral stone), Govardhana Sila (stone from the Govardhan hill), etc. They have solar significance, and their use in worship is very common among all sects of Vaishnavites of Hindu religion.


Dvārakā, also known as Dvāravatī (Sanskrit द्वारका "the gated [city]", possibly meaning having many gates, or alternatively having one or several very grand gates) is a sacred historic city in Hinduism, Jainismand Buddhism. The name Dvaraka is said to have been given to the place by Bhagwan Krishna, a major deity in Hinduism. Dvaraka is one of the Sapta Puri (seven sacred cities) of Hinduism.

In the Mahabharata, it was a city located in what is now Dwarka, formerly called Kushasthali, the fort of which had to be repaired by the Yadavas. In this epic, the city is described as a capital of the Anarta Kingdom. According to the Harivamsa the city was located in the region of the Sindhu Kingdom.In the Hindu epics and the Puranas, Dvaraka is called Dvaravati and is one of seven Tirtha (pilgrimage) sites for spiritual liberation. The other six are Mathura, Ayodhya, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Avantika (Ujjain) and Puri.

Dvārakā–Kamboja route

The Dvārakā–Kamboja route is an ancient land trade route that was an important branch of the Silk Road during antiquity and the early medieval era. It is referred to in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain works. It connected the Kamboja Kingdom in today's Afghanistan and Tajikistan via Pakistan to Dvārakā (Dvaravati) and other major ports in Gujarat, India, permitting goods from Afghanistan and China to be exported by sea to southern India, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Ancient Greece and Rome.

The road was the second most important ancient caravan route linking India with the nations of the northwest.

Early history of Thailand

The known early history of Thailand begins with the earliest major archaeological site at Ban Chiang. Dating of artifacts from this site is controversial, but there is a consensus that at least by 3600 BCE, inhabitants had developed bronze tools and had begun to cultivate wet rice, providing the impetus for social and political organisation.

Later, Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilisations flourished in the region prior to the domination of the Thais, most notably the kingdom of Srivijaya in the south, the Dvaravati kingdom in central Thailand, and the Khmer Empire based at Angkor.

The Thai are part of a larger ethno-linguistic group known as the Tai, a group which includes the Lao, the people of the Shan region of northeastern Burma, the Zhuang people of Guangxi Province in China and the Thổ people and Nùng people of northern Vietnam. Migrations from southern China to Southeast Asia took place primarily during the first millennium CE, most likely via northern Laos.

During the first millennium CE the Tai peoples were loosely organised in small entities known as muang. They were heavily influenced by the more advanced cultures around them: the Khmer to the east, and the Hindu cultures of India to the west. Most of the Tai were converted to a form of Hinduism, traces of which can still be seen in Thai religious practice today. Between the 6th and 9th centuries CE, Buddhism was introduced into the Tai-speaking lands, probably via Burma, and became the dominant religion. The Theravada Buddhism now practiced in Thailand was introduced by missionaries from Sri Lanka in the 13th century.

Phongsawadannuea (Chronicle of the North) is a historical record of this period. The date of its first compilation is unknown, but its content stretches from 500 CE down to the early 11th century. The recent edition was compiled in early Rattanakosin period.

History of Thailand

The Thai people, who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The word Siam (Thai: สยาม RTGS: Sayam) may have originated from Pali (suvaṇṇabhūmi, "land of gold") or Sanskrit श्याम (śyāma, “dark”) or Mon ရာမည (rhmañña, "stranger"), probably the same root as Shan and Ahom. Chinese: 暹羅; pinyin: Xiānluó was the name for the northern kingdom centred on Sukhothai and Sawankhalok, but to the Thai themselves, the name of the country has always been Mueang Thai.The country's designation as Siam by Westerners likely came from the Portuguese. Portuguese chronicles noted that the Borommatrailokkanat, king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, sent an expedition to the Malacca Sultanate at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in 1455. Following their conquest of Malacca in 1511, the Portuguese sent a diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya. A century later, on 15 August 1612, The Globe, an East India Company merchantman bearing a letter from King James I, arrived in "the Road of Syam". "By the end of the 19th century, Siam had become so enshrined in geographical nomenclature that it was believed that by this name and no other would it continue to be known and styled."Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, the Khmer Empire and Malay states of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra had ruled the region. The Thai established their own states: Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom, the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, Lan Na, and the Ayutthaya Kingdom. These states fought each other and were under constant threat from the Khmers, Burma and Vietnam. Much later, the European colonial powers threatened in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but Thailand survived as the only Southeast Asian state to avoid European colonial rule because of centralising reforms enacted by King Chulalongkorn and because the French and the British decided it would be a neutral territory to avoid conflicts between their colonies. After the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand endured sixty years of almost permanent military rule before the establishment of a democratically elected-government system. In 2014 there was yet another coup d'état.

Initial states of Thailand

Before the Tai people's southward migration from Yunnan since the 4th century, the Indochinese peninsula had already been populated by Australo-Melanesians who by around 30,000 BP had spread into all sub-regions. They left traces of the first local culture - the Hoabinhian, a name assigned to an industry and cultural continuity of stone tools and flaked cobble artifacts that appears around 10,000 BP in caves and rock shelters first described in Hòa Bình, Vietnam, later also documented in Terengganu, Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Yunnan, southern China.Austroasiatic Mon and Khmer groups, who originate in North-Eastern India predominantly populated the riverine lowlands of Indochina since around 5000 years BP. Austronesian immigrants arrived at the coast of central modern Vietnam around 2500 BP.The controversial Two layer hypothesis suggests the immigration of settlers arriving from the Yangtze River valley around 3,000 BP, who introduced wet-rice and millet farming techniques in Mainland Southeast Asia.

The site of Ban Chiang in North-eastern Thailand currently ranks as the earliest known center of copper and bronze production in Southeast Asia and has been dated to around 2,000 years BCE.The oldest known records of a political entity in Indochina are attributed to Funan - centered in the Mekong Delta and comprising territories inside modern day Thailand. Chinese annals confirm Funan's existence as early as the 1st century CE, but archaeological documentation implies an extensive human settlement history since the 4th century BCE. The Langkasuka and Tambralinga kingdoms on the Malay peninsula appear in Chinese texts by the fifth century.

As well as Funan these polities are characterized as fully developed Indianized kingdoms, which after centuries of trade and socio-economic interaction with India had adopted and incorporated elements of Indian culture, religion, statecraft, administration, epigraphy, literature and architecture.The Mon Dvaravati principalities also appear during the middle of the first millennium in the lower Chao Phraya River valley of modern-day central Thailand. Unlike Funan, Langkasuka and Tambralinga that were situated in the center of the international trade network Dvaravati remained relatively isolated. Although distinct, the sophisticated Mon-Dvaravati culture is based on Hindu cosmology. Its characteristic art style "such as the faceted miter sitting high on the forehead ... the facial features, especially the eyes″ has influenced Thai sculpture to this day.

Lavo Kingdom

The Kingdom of Lavo was a political entity (mandala) on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Upper Chao Phraya valley from the end of Dvaravati civilization, around the 7th century, until 1388. The original center of Lavo civilization was Lavo (modern Lopburi), but the capital shifted southward to Ayutthaya around the 11th century, whereupon the state became the Ayutthaya Kingdom according to recent historical analysis.

Mon people

The Mon (Mon: မန္ or မည်; Burmese: မွန်လူမျိုး‌, pronounced [mʊ̀ɴ lù mjó]; Khmer: មន, Thai: มอญ, pronounced [mɔ̄ːn]) are an ethnic group native to Myanmar's Mon State, Bago Region, the Irrawaddy Delta and the southern border with Thailand. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Indochina. The Mon were a major source of influence on the culture of Myanmar. They speak the Mon language, an Austroasiatic language, and share a common origin with the Nyah Kur people of Thailand; they are from the Mon mandala (polity) of Dvaravati.

The eastern Mon include the current royal family of Thailand who are of Mon ancestry. The Mon assimilated to Thai culture long ago, yet the royal women of the Chakri dynasty perform and keep their Mon heritage alive in the Thai court. The western Mon of Myanmar were largely absorbed by Bamar society. They have worked to preserve their language and culture and to regain a greater degree of political autonomy.

Recent studies have adduced evidence indicating that the Mon and Bamar share some common genetic ancestry. A genetic study done on Mon from Southern Myanmar and Bamar from Southern Myanmar showed a high prevalence of a particular glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) mutation not found among Khmers, Laotians or Thais.

Monic languages

The Monic languages are a branch of the Austroasiatic language family descended from the Old Monic language of the kingdom of Dvaravati in what is now central Thailand. The Nyahkur people continue directly from that kingdom, whereas the Mon are descendants of those who migrated to Pegu after the 11th century Khmer conquest of Dvaravati.

Nakhon Pathom

Nakhon Pathom (Thai: นครปฐม, pronounced [náʔkʰɔ̄ːn pā.tʰǒm]) is a city (thesaban nakhon) in central Thailand, the former capital of Nakhon Pathom Province. One of the most important landmarks is the giant Phra Pathom Chedi. The city is also home to Thailand's only Bhikkhuni temple Wat Song Thammakanlayani (วัดทรงธรรมกัลยาณี), which is also open to women from abroad.Nakhon Pathom houses a campus of Silpakorn University within the Sanam Chan Palace.

The city lies 57 km west of Bangkok.

According to Charles Higham, "Two silver medallions from beneath a sanctuary at Nakhon Pathom, the largest of the moated sites, proclaim that it was 'the meritorious work of the King of Sri Dvaravati', the Sanskrit term Dvaravati meaning 'that which has gates'. The script is in south Indian characters of the seventh century." Nakhon Pathom was the largest Dvaravati center.

Nakhon Pathom Province

Nakhon Pathom (Thai: จังหวัดนครปฐม, pronounced [náʔkʰɔ̄ːn pā.tʰǒm], (Pronunciation)) is one of the central provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighbouring provinces are (from north clockwise) Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi. The capital city of Nakhon Pathom Province is Nakhon Pathom.Nakhon Pathom Province is home to the Phra Pathom Chedi, a chedi commissioned by King Mongkut (Rama IV) and completed by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1870. The chedi is a reminder of the long vanished Dvaravati civilization that once flourished here and by tradition Nakhon Pathom is where Buddhism first came to Thailand. The province itself is known for its many fruit orchards.

Nyah Kur language

The Nyah Kur language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by a remnant of the Mon people of Dvaravati, the Nyah Kur people, who live in present-day Thailand. It is known as Chao-bon (Thai: ชาวบน) in Thai.

Nyah Kur people

The Nyah Kur (known in Thai as ชาวบน, Chao Bon) are an ethnic group native to Thailand in Southeast Asia. Closely related to the Mon people, the Nyah Kur are the descendants of the Mon of Dvaravati who did not flee westward or assimilate when their empire fell under the influence of the Khmer when Suryavarman I gained the throne in the early 11th century.

Old Mon script

The Old Mon script was a script used to write Mon, and may also be the source script of the Burmese alphabet.


Sabai (Thai: สไบ, RTGS: sabai, pronounced [sābāj]; Khmer: ស្បៃ; Lao: ສະໄບ), or phaa biang (Lao: ຜ້າບ່ຽງ; Thai: ผ้าเบี่ยง, pronounced [pʰâː bìa̯ŋ]) is shawl-like garment, or breast cloth worn in mainland Southeast Asia. The term "Sabai" is used for a woman's silk breast wrapper in Cambodia, central Thailand, southern Thailand, northern Thailand, Isan, and Laos while in coastal Sumatra it is described as a shoulder cloth. A Sabai can also be worn by men in Lao weddings or when attending religious ceremonies. The type of Sabai typically worn by Lao men often has checkered patterns. Sabai also well known as a long piece of silk, about a foot wide, draped diagonally over the chest covering one shoulder with one end dropping behind the back."Along with the shoulder sash, selendang of Malay and Sabai of Thailand may have been derived from the Indian garment called a sari, the end of which is worn over one shoulder, as most Southeast Asia countries were ruled by Indianized kingdoms.

There are related mythologies in the Khmer culture concerning the history of Sabai, which was likely invented during the Funan era in Cambodia's history, in the 1st century AD. The Sabai is mentioned in Preah Thaong and Neang Neak, a legend with the founders of the Kingdom of Funan as the two main characters. In one scene, Preah Thong clings to a piece of cloth known worn on the Nagini in order to make the journey to the Nāga's kingdom; that piece of cloth is a Sabai. In that tale, Sabai is symbolic of Neang Neak, the Naga princess's tail. For instance, there is an important little rite within the marriage ceremony called Preah Thong Taong Sbai Neang Neak, a symbolic representation of the legend as the groom must to hang on to the bride's Sabai as they go to their room for the honeymoon.Archaeological evidence from a Mon Dvaravati site depicts five ladies playing instruments and wearing what seems to be a piece of fabric hanging from their shoulder which is quite similar to Sabai. Mon Dvaravati culture practices Theravada Buddhism which later influenced the Tai in the 13th century.



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