HistoryKhmer Ruins

Khmer Artifacts in the Khon Kaen National Museum

large bai sema boundary stone with Princess Princess Yasodhara cleaning Lord Buddha's feet with her hair
Bai sema boundary stone with Princess Yasodhara cleaning the Buddha’s feet with her hair.

The Khon Kaen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ขอนแก่น), opened in 1972, has four small but interesting historical galleries with artefacts from around Upper Isan and is worth a look for anyone visiting Khon Kaen. Its most famous object, standing in the center of the Dvaravati wing, is a bai sema boundary stone of the Buddha’s wife, Princess Yasodhara (aka Bimpa Devi) cleaning the Buddha’s feet with her hair that was found at Muang Fa Daet Song Yan in Kalasin province.

The museum’s Prehistoric wing mostly has objects from Ban Chiang while upstairs are smaller sets of Khmer-, Lan Chang-, and Ratanakosin-era items. The Lan Chang collection is mostly small silver and gold embossed Buddhas, many of which were found at Khmer temple ruins since the Lao used many of them after the Khmer were driven out of Thailand. An Isan art and culture gallery plus some more Dvaravati bai sema and a Khmer lintel sit in back, and outside are nearly 200 more stone carvings; mostly Dvaravati bai sema but also a few Khmer pieces. Note that the Khmer objects down by the Fine Arts Department offices east of the museum are all replicas.

many Khmer stone carvings on display

As of February 2021, these are all the Khmer artifacts from a known temple ruin on display.

Ku Ban Daeng (กู่บ้านแดง), Amphoe Wapi Pathum, Maha Sarakham

lintel with three Bodhisattvas
Lintel of the Ratanatray Mahayana (Three Jewels of Mahayana Buddhism): The Buddha, sheltered by a naga; Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion; and Prajnaparamita, the Embodiment of Wisdom. Indra riding Erawan is on both sides. – 13th century

Ku Ban Moei (กู่บ้านเมย), Amphoe Nong Song Hong, Khon Kaen

lintel with Indra riding Erawan
Lintel of Indra riding Erawan – 11th to 12th century
a pair of inscription stones
Two inscriptions in Old Khmer – 11th century
four broken pilasters
Pilasters – 11th to 12th century

Ku Buamat (กู่บัวมาศ), Amphoe Borabue, Maha Sarakham

statue of Vishnu
Vishnu – 11th to 13th century
statue of Bhaisajyaguru
Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha – 13th century

Ku Kaew (กู่แก้ว), Amphoe Mueang, Khon Kaen

statue of vajrapani riding a garuda
Vajrapani on garuda – 13th century
statue of Bhaisajyaguru
Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha – 13th century
statue of buffalo with broken Yama riding it
Yama riding a buffalo – 13th century
four-sided inscription stone with old text
Inscription in Sanskrit and Old Khmer – 13th century

Ku Noi (กู่น้อย), Amphoe Na Dun, Maha Sarakham

tall statue of Shiva
Shiva – 11th Century
headless statue of Vishnu
Vishnu – 11th century
statue of Buddha under a naga
Buddha sheltered by a naga – 12th to 13th century

Ku Phanna (กู่พันนา), Amphoe Sawang Daen Din, Sakon Nakhon

statue of Yama riding a buffalo
Yama riding a buffalo – 13th century

Ku Santarat (กู่สันตรัตน์), Amphoe Na Dun, Maha Sarakham

statue of Buddha under a naga
Buddha sheltered by a naga – 12th to 13th century

Sala Nang Khao (ศาลานางขาว), Amphoe Na Dun, Maha Sarakham

head of a deity
Head of deity – 13th to 14th century
head and hands of a deity
Head and hands of a deity – 13th to 14th century
inscription slab with old text
Inscription in Old Khmer – 12th to 13th century

Details – 9am-4pm Wed-Sun, 100/20B foreigners/Thais, 043-246170, www.finearts.go.th/khonkaenmuseum.
Location – Lang Soon Rachakarn Rd., Tambon Nai Mueang, Amphoe Mueang, Khon Kaen Province

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