Assignment on Thailand: Culture and Society

Thailand has a history that is 4500 years old. The word Thai means “free; the name Thailand means ” the land of the free”. The country is approximately the size of France and divided into four regions: the North, the North-east, the Central area and the South. Each region has its own dialect, but the official language is the Central dialect which was influenced by Sanskrit loan words from Buddhism and the Ramayana. Thailand has its own culture. According to an article in Thai Life, this culture may be divided into four major aspects: linguistic culture, aesthetic culture, customary and traditional, or folk culture, and spiritual culture. The term “linguistic culture” refers to a language, including reading and writing. The Thai language is basically monosyllabic and tonal. Official Thai is predominantly influenced by Sanskrit from the Ramayana and Pali from Buddhism. The official Thai language has five tones and comprises many Sanskrit loan words. Official Thai is required to be used in schools, government, the press and broadcasting. The Thai language is stratified.

The monosyllabic words appear largely in the vernacular and are used by native people and those with no formal education. Courtesy and superior class require the use of the official Thai language. Thai also has its own written language Aesthetic culture consists of man-made cultural elements, such as paintings, sculpture, architecture, drama, music and dance. It is strongly influenced by Buddhism and the Ramayana. For example, the architecture of Thai Buddhist temples appears to have been derived from the Ramayana: from the places where gods lived in a paradise of glittering gold and crystal. High-peaked pagodas stretched into the sky, reaching towards paradise.

The murals on temple walls teli the story of the Buddha and the Ramayana. The interior decorations. In the temples comprise many sculptured Buddhas in a wide variety of poses. The outsides of the temples are decorated with sculptures of demons and gods and legendary animals of the Ramayana. Thai dance, music and literature are based upon the themes of the Ramayana and Buddhist legends Customary and traditional or folk culture is always concerned with the relationship between humans and Buddhism. Thai customs and festivals are linked directly with Buddhism and the Ramayana, for example, the kings’ and queen’s birthdays and their special anniversaries. Furthermore, Thai society is arranged according to a hierarchy. Thai’s pay respect to their elders, parents, teachers and the king and members of the Royal Family.