As an expression of piousness, members of the court often gifted their highly desirable imported Indian cottons to local Buddhist temples. Within the context of such sacred spaces, chintzes were displayed as banners and used as altar cloths or floor spreads. A sturdy piece of plain fabric sewn to the reverse suggests that this panel may have been used as a wall hanging; it is likely that this piece was cut from a long, rectangular skirt called a pha nung. Textiles as intricate as this were included in diplomatic exchanges to foreign leaders as impressive representations of the kingdom’s wealth.
This fine example was formerly in the collection of Dr. Henry Ginsburg (1940–2007), curator of Thai and Cambodian collections for the British Library from 1973 to 2003. A renowned scholar and connoisseur, Dr. Ginsburg collected rare and unusual eighteenth-and nineteenth-century chintzes made in India for Southeast Asian markets. Dr. Ginsburg shared his expertise on Thai manuscripts through his academic publications; his passion for textiles, however, was a very personal aspect of his intellectual pursuits.
An eighteenth-century pha nung fragment of identical design is in the Tapi Collection (01.200) and illustrated in Deepika Shah, Masters of the Cloth (2005), p. 28, figure 24; a related example is in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection (IS.58-1991), pictured in John Guy, Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East (1998), p. 129, figure 170.
51” H x 41” W