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Murphy, Stephen A (2022) 'Rituals set in Stone: Tracing the Archaeological Evidence for the Development of the Sīmā Stone tradition in Southeast Asia.' In: Carbine, Jason and Davis, Erik, (eds.), Sīmās: Foundations of Buddhist Religion. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 43-65.

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Abstract

This paper discusses the development of the sīmā stone tradition from the earliest archaeological evidence in what are today the areas of Northeast Thailand and Central Laos to its wider distribution across Mainland Southeast Asia. The earliest substantive record in a Southeast Asian context for the use of sīmā stones comes from the Khorat Plateau – today made up of northeast Thailand and Central Laos – ca. sixth to seventh centuries CE onwards. There is also a small amount of archaeological evidence for sīmā stones in what is today Myanmar. The sīmā stone tradition continues to develop in the Khorat Plateau over the eighth to ninth centuries with over 110 sites documented to date from the region. Sīmā stones do not appear to be present to any significant degree in what is today Central Thailand during this period, despite the fact that there is ample archaeological evidence for the practice of Buddhism. It is only from the eleventh century onwards that evidence for sīmā stones exist in this region. It appears therefore, that the sīmā stone tradition spread into this region from the Khorat Plataeu. Prior to this, Buddhist sites in Central Thailand, and other regions of Southeast Asia for that matter, may have employed other materials such as wood for sīmā, however, its perishable nature means there is no surviving trace in the archaeological record. Sīmā stones also begin to appear in what is today Lower Myanmar by the eleventh century, specifically at the Kalyāni Sīmā at Thaton. By the fourteenth to fifteenth century sīmā stones are also evident at the Bayon terraces at Angkor. The tradition had also taken hold in the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms. This insured that it was eventually disseminated throughout all of what is today Thailand. By discussing the spread of sīmā stones from their earliest documented occurrence in the Khorat Plataeu to their development throughout the region up to the present, this paper traces the development of a tradition which today forms an integral part of both Buddhist ritual practice and monastic architecture within Mainland Southeast Asia.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Khorat Plateau, Northeast Thailand, Sima, Thai Buddhism, archaeology, Art History, Myanmar, Cambodia, Theravada
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
Departments and Subunits
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
N Fine Arts
ISBN: 9780824888855
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2022 10:53
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/36596
Related URLs: https://uhpress ... dhist-religion/ (Publisher URL)

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