Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Colors (Thai Architecture Elements Series)

These little books are published to make available unused images from Nithi Stapitanonda's book Architecture of Thailand (2006.) In each he focuses on one or two architectural elements with images and some text, this one looks at color. See also Roofs, Doors & Windows, and Surfaces.

Colors hold high significance in Thai culture; most Thais register a deep connection between colors and the ideas associated with them. For instance, each day of the week is assigned a color and the King's color is yellow based on his birthday, while the Queen's is blue based on hers. These bright colors show up in everything from shirts commemorating the King to cloth bunting along the road. This book focuses in on the use of the primary colors in architecture, but it is clear from a quick glance at any Thai street that many vibrant colors are used unapologetically in all manner of buildings.

Some notes from the text:

The color red, or vermilion, signifies power and sacredness. It is part of the Thai national flag and is also utilised for inscriptions on holy cloth that is used as a talisman. Red is also widely used in almost all Thai architectural elements...applied along with other colors to enhance beauty and interpretation, for instance red and gold used together enhances the shine of gold and adds brightness...red can also be applied in combination with opposite colors...such as red-green, red-blue, and red-yellow.

Yellow is significant in Buddhism; the color expresses sacredness and also prosperity and wealth. It is favored both in Thai paintings and architecture...in this book, gold is included in the category of yellow color. Gold is the color that expresses prosperity and wealth more prominently than other colors, therefore, it is favored in architecture of significance or in buildings meant for the higher ranks such as those dedicated to Buddha or the King. Thai craftsmen always use gilded copper plates to cover the principle pagoda, decorate the roof of buildings with gold colored glass mosaics, and apply gold with other colors such as gold on black lacquer, gold-blue, and gold-red.

Dark blue, a cool tone color, gives a feeling of calmness. It also signifies royalty and is another color that is seen on the Thai national flag...blue was imported from China in later times therefore the application of blue was only for high-ranking buildings such as royal temples and the grand palace.

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