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  • LIFESTYLE

    Retelling a great Lao-Thai tale

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 22/02/2016

    » Sinxay is a story which appears in slightly different versions with slightly different names in Mon, Thai, Lao and Khmer. The plot is a classic quest in which a hero prince is banished by the machinations of evil siblings, travels long through forest and mountain, defeats many fearsome enemies, and is eventually celebrated in a great homecoming. Old versions were written in verse for recitation at festivals. Key scenes were popular with artists painting temple murals. During the nationalist era in the 1940s, the great littérateur of Laos, Maha Sila Viravong, began a prose version in a conscious attempt to create a Lao national literature. More recently, Sinxay has been celebrated as a kind of national hero in Laos. In 2005, Khon Kaen municipality adopted Sinxay as symbol of the city, and characters from the tale sprouted on the peaks of the city's lamp posts.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Bringing the birth stories to life

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 12/10/2015

    » The jataka tales or birth stories are the most vivid and accessible part of Buddhist teaching. The Buddha, once he gained the ability to recall his past lives, related all 550 of them to the monks in his following. In some lives, he was a king, some a hermit, some a pauper, and in a few an animal. The 10 longest of these tales became associated with his 10 last lives and with his attainment of the "perfections" that enabled him to be born as the historical Buddha. In this book, this Great Ten have been translated anew for the first time in over a century.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Integration or disintegration

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 11/08/2017

    » One of the lesser-known activities of the European Union in this region is the funding of academic research designed to "help the EU and its member states make coherent and culturally relevant foreign policies" towards the region.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Charnvit in a nutshell

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 09/11/2015

    » In 1973, Charnvit Kasetsiri became the first Thai historian to gain a doctorate from a top-flight American university and have his thesis published by the university press. In the official history of Thailand at the time, Sukhothai was described as the first Thai kingdom, a Golden Age which displayed everything good about Thai civilisation and Thai values. The role of the subsequent Ayutthaya period was to decline from this peak, so that the Bangkok era could be another great era of revival and resurgence. Charnvit's thesis quietly gnawed away the foundations of this national mythology by describing the rise of the Ayutthaya kingdom. He added a series of articles on Ayutthaya's growth into one of the great commercial powers of early modern Asia, and the cradle of the Thailand we know today. One of these articles began with a banner headline "Ayutthaya was the first major political, cultural and commercial center of the Thai". Goodbye Sukhothai.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Silent no more

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 17/03/2014

    » Why have Northeasterners become such enthusiastic supporters for Thaksin Shinawatra, the Pheu Thai party and the red-shirt movement? Charles Keyes first arrived in the Northeast in 1962 as a research student in rural anthropology. After the 2010 crackdown on red shirts in Bangkok, he realised he had to rethink all he had learned and written about the region over the last 48 years. This book is the result.

  • LIFESTYLE

    Truth is rarely simple

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 19/08/2013

    » Thai political leaders don't write memoirs, so Abhisit Vejjajiva's account of events from his appointment as prime minister in December 2008 to the end of the red-shirt demonstration on April 20, 2010 is path-breaking. Abhisit explains that he wrote this memoir because red shirts have made political capital by claiming that government forces killed protesters in a brutal crackdown, so he needs to set the record straight: "We have heard plenty of lies _ I now ask for the opportunity to tell the truth."

  • LIFESTYLE

    Festive Isan in full colour

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 04/03/2013

    » This book reproduces a beautiful festive scroll from Thailand's Northeast that is now in Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum.

  • LIFESTYLE

    The unofficial court jester of Modernising Siam

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 07/01/2013

    » He claimed that his only aim was "to benefit the royalty, my country, and the Buddhist religion." But many others, especially those in power, thought he was a nut and a "Man of Great Nuisance to Society".

  • LIFESTYLE

    Daring revision

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 04/02/2013

    » The eminent art historian Piriya Krairiksh is a famous iconoclast. He brazenly proposed that the Ramkhamhaeng inscription, the Magna Carta of Thai history, had been faked by King Mongkut (Rama IV).

  • LIFESTYLE

    The world of worship, wealth and wonders

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 03/12/2012

    » This book is about everyday belief and practice in contemporary Thailand. It begins with a telling image. At the top of the spirit altar is always a small figure of the Buddha. On the next level down may be statues of famous monks from the past, such as Somdet To, along with Siamese kings, particularly King Chulalongkorn.

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