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A papier-mâché demon-faced dance mask with gold and painted mirror work. Museum no. IM. 45-1939

A papier-mâché demon-faced dance mask with gold and painted mirror work. Museum no. IM. 45-1939

The historic origins of the V&A's Thai collection lie in acquisitions made largely during the period from the mid 19th to the late 20th centuries. More recently important acquisitions of early sculpture and metalwork from the 7th to the 9th centuries, including pieces from the collection of Alexander Biancardi, have further strengthened these holdings. The collection has been additionally enhanced in the last few years by the bequest of objects formerly belonging to Doris Duke, the renowned American collector of South East Asian art.

The Arts of Thailand display features the museum's finest Thai Buddhist sculptures in bronze and stone spanning the period from the 7th to the 19th centuries together with works of decorative art in a wide variety of media associated both with the Thai court and with monasteries. These include carved ivory, niello ware, silver and gold repoussé work, wood and lacquer offering dishes overlaid with mother of pearl and the unusual porcelain Bencharong ('Five Colour') vessels made for the Thai court and nobility in the kilns of China.

The range of the display has been extended by the inclusion of a painting illustrating a Jataka scene from a former life of the Buddha and an astrologer's illustrated handbook. A spectacular focus for one of the cases is provided by a late 19th century diamond encrusted belt and pendant necklace on loan to the museum from the Thai royal family and formerly owned by Queen Saowabha Pongsri, Queen to King Rama 5th of Thailand (1868-1910).

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Find out about the conservation work carried out on the objects on display in 'The Arts of Thailand' by the V&A'sConservation Department.

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