In the Late Lan Na period of 14th to mid 16th century in Northern Thailand, Thai Yuan Buddha images were made mostly in the near by provinces of Chaingmai.  Thai Yuan images are spread all over many provinces in Northern Thailand.  Thai Yuan Buddha images have many verities, seated, standing, walking and reclining and some provinces have their significance characters on their images.

The distinctive characters of Thai Yuan Buddha Heads are as follows:

Thai Yuan Buddha Head

Thai Yuan Buddha Head Northern Thailand 14 Century

The Finial (Ratsami or Ketumala)

Emanating from the top of the Buddha’s head is a finial representing his fiery energy or explosive spiritual power.  The finial of the Thai Yuan Buddha images in Northern part of Thailand is the flame form. The flame is bigger and longer than other type of Buddha images.  The finials of the Thai Yuan Buddha images are replicable and some images have more than one finial.  The finials are replaced according to the type of ceremony.  Sometimes the finial is encircled with a ring or rings at the base where it joins the rounded excrescence of the ushnisha.

The Cranial Protuberance (Ushnisha)

The dome shaped mound on the head of Buddha is another identifying characteristic of Buddha Statues in Asia.  This mound or the cranial protuberance is indicative of the acquired knowledge by a superior being.  The Ushnisha on Northern Thailand Buddha heads are conical or hemispherical in shape.

The Hair Curls

The hair of Buddha is depicted in individual tightly curled coils.  According to the legend, the Buddha only had to shave his head once-when he cut off his long princely hair to become an ascetic.  After his initial tonsure, the Buddha’s hair adhered tightly to his scalp in rows of snail like curls.  Small raised hair curls are typical of the Thai Yuan Buddhas.

The Band at the Hairline

One of the distinguishing marks of the Buddha images in Thailand is the band at the hairline.  A stylistic element separating the hair from the face, the band usually extends from ear to ear but not always behind them. The Thai Yuan Buddha images have a very distinct hair band from ear to ear which slightly dips at the center of the forehead.

Thai Yuan Buddha Head Side View

Thai Yuan Buddha Head Northern Thailand-Side View

The Forehead Mark (Urna)

The urna represents a tuft of white hair curling from a mole located in the center of the forehead that was supposedly a part of the Buddha’s special facial anatomy.  Alternatively, some scholars think the urna is a representation of the magical intonation, om which is sometimes depicted in the form of a spiral.  Mostly the urna is painted on the Buddha image.  This miniature brass image does not have urna.

The Facial features

The facial features of most of the Thai Yuan Buddha are big and square.  The upper eye lids over the downcast eyes are not so prominent and nose is not so protruding like the other Buddha images. It has a large mouth with full lips.

The Ears with Elongated Ear Lobes

The distended ear lobes are a reminder of the Buddha’s royal lineage.  As a young prince, Siddhartha would have worn heavy ear rings, weight of which would have elongated the lobes and the holes within.  On becoming an ascetic, he exchanged rich raiment and precious jewelry for the simple robe.  Royalty, disciples and semi divine beings also have elongated ear lobes.  The image bears the long ear lobes with marks for holes.

Thai Yuan Buddha Head Back V

Thai Yuan Buddha Head - Back View

The lines at the Neck

Buddha’s and other important male or female figures may have three concentric lines on the neck.  These are on the lower front of the neck, not on the sides or on the back.  The lowest line is at the collar bone and occasionally can be mistaken for the neck of the robe.  The other two are evenly placed above.  Called “shell neck” in India, they are metaphor for the three folds at the opening of spiral shells and signify good fortune and beauty.  The Thai Yuan Buddha head has the cut at the neck on the third line so only the above two lines can be observed as the third is at the cutting point.

This image is available for sale in my store section coded BH2 Thai Yuan Buddha Head on Stand.