Friday, May 20, 2011

cultural of thailand

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Cultural Analysis


Introduction


Thailand is a meeting place, where people of diverse backgrounds have come together to pool their culture and racial characteristics, giving rise to something new, strong and vital. With a territory and population about the same size as France, Thailands people are mostly ethnic Thai, with other ethnic groups mixed in Burmese, Chinese, Lao, Khmer and hilltribes. The people are mostly Buddhist, less than 10 percent believe in other faiths Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Brahmanism





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History


There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in Northwestern Szechuan in China about 4,500 years ago and later migrated down to their present homeland. However, this theory has been altered by the discovery of remarkable prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast. These include evidence of bronze metallurgy going back ,500 years, as well as other indications of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected by archaeologists. It now appears that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including some parts of China.


Geography


The Kingdom of Thailand, located in Southeast Asia on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, shares boundaries with Myanmar (Burma) on the west and northwest, Laos on the east and northeast, Cambodia (Kampuchea) on the southeast, and Malaysia on the south. Thailand, although rich in rubber and in mineral resources, was never colonized by Europeans and has existed as a unified monarchy since 150. The capital, BANGKOK, an attractive blend of Western and Thai architecture, was established in 178.


Thailand covers a land area of 51,115 square kilometers, from North 5° 0¨ to 1° and from East 7° 0¨ to 105° 0¨, and extends about ,500 kilometers from north to south and 1,50 kilometers from east to west, with a coastline of approximately 1,840 kilometers on the Gulf of Thailand and 865 kilometers along the Indian Ocean.


Social Institutions


-Family


Perhaps the best way to comprehend Thai social values is to focus on its basic unit, the Family, and in particular the rural family in its typical village setting. Generations living under one roof, or at least under several roofs within the same compound; and it is here that the Thai child learns codes of behavior that will guide him throughout much of his later life, whether it is spent in the village or beyonds.


In a village, home is usually a simple wooden house raised on posts; domestic animals like buffalos, pigs, and chickens are kept below, and the family lives above, often in a single room. There is little privacy, though this is not as highly regarded as in Western countries, and the communal lift style instills a strong sense, of social harmony in which tact, compromise, and tolerance are essential. The father is regarded as the leader, but the mother also plays a significant role, particularly in the family finances.


-Education


The education system in current practice provides six years at the primary level, three years at the lower secondary level, three years at the upper secondary level, and four years at the tertiary level. Although only six years of primary schooling are now compulsory, a project to widen access to lower secondary level has been actively implemented nationwide by a special Cabinet approval since 187. The widening access is a first step towards an eventual goal of nine-year compulsory education.


Religion and Aesthetics


The Thais have their own culture (including literature, drama, architecture, music, painting, sculpture, folk dances, and many handicrafts), their own language, their own cuisine, their own martial arts, and their own beliefs. Though many fortuitous Indian and Chinese cultural traits have partially influenced Thai culture in many aspects, it is the mixture of these and Thai eclecticism that has, over the centuries, developed the idiosyncratic culture that is unique to Thailand.


Towards the end of the 1th century, a passion for the outward trappings of Western culture manifested itself in Thailand. However, the more refined Thai arts and crafts, such as those elegant accessories and ceremonial objects created for use in royal palaces, aristocratic homes, and Buddhist temples, were not entirely suppressed by the newfound taste for Western goods. Such items, displaying the highest levels of skill, had originated in the first independent Thai capital of Sukhothai and continued to be produced through the 400-year rule of Ayutthaya, and into the Rattanakosin, or Bangkok, Period. They and their creators were known as chang, which roughly means craft or craftsmen. Production of such refined crafts increased enormously in the Ayutthaya Period. To supply these needs, a large body of chang evolved, passing their specialized skills down from master to apprentice and eventually forming a hierarchy of their own.


Living Conditions


Though the great majority of Thailand’s 61 million people are ethnically Thai and Buddhist, the country has a substantial number of minority groups who have historically lived together in harmony. Of these, the Chinese are perhaps the most numerous (particularly in urban areas), though they have become so thoroughly assimilated it would be difficult to isolate them as a distinct group. Similarly, while there are Lao and Khmer groups in the Northeast and East, nearly all regard themselves as Thai, culturally as well as by nationality. More clearly defined as an ethnic group are the Muslims, who are mainly concentrated in the southern provinces, and assorted hill tribes who live in the far North; there are also sizeable communities of Hindus and Sikhs in large cities like Bangkok.


Some 80 percent of all Thais are connected in some way with agriculture, which, in varying degrees, influences and is influenced by the religious ceremonies and festivals that make Thailand such a distinctive country.


Language


The official national language, spoken by almost 100 per cent of the population, is Thai, classified by linguists as belonging to a Chinese -Thai branch of the Sino -Tibetan family. It is a tonal language, uninflected, and predominantly monosyllabic. Most polysyllabic words in the vocabulary have been borrowed, mainly from Khmer, Pali, or Sanskrit. Dialects are spoken in rural areas. Principal other languages are Chinese and Malay. English, a mandatory subject in public schools, is widely spoken and understood, particularly in Bangkok and other major cities.





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