The Buddhist art of central Thailand was associated with the prosperous kingdom of Dvaravati, about which little is known beyond traces of its urban landscapes and sculptural record. Its patrons created large-scale public art, which must have dominated such major cities as Nakhon Pathom and U Thong.
This Buddhist art is an expression of state identity, represented by the most monumental works in the exhibition: stone Buddhas, sacred wheels of the Buddha's Law, and narrative steles and reliefs. The monumental tradition is represented by the throne crossbar belonging to one of the great Buddhas originally installed at Nakhon Pathom and by the large Buddha heads, a reminder of the fragmentary archaeological record of surviving Dvaravati art.
Sophisticated modeling and highly finished surfaces help distinguish this art as one of the most sophisticated of its age. While it model is Sarnath monastic art of northern India, the sensitive and distinctive facial modeling is uniquely Dvaravati. An important aspect of this legacy are the terracotta and stucco narrative reliefs that decorated the paths walked by devotees circumambulating sacred Buddhist monuments. This style was at its height in the seventh and eighth centuries.