2b. United States Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, 1876

Yellow Enamel Monk's Betel Set - Gift of King Rama V, 1876


Thailand's participation in the Centennial Exposition of 1876, held in Philadelphia, was extraordinary. A massive exhibit of Thai artifacts and manufactured goods -over 900 items- was assembled at a cost of over $96,000 (in 1875 dollars). Again the kru’ang yot composed a part of the gift.
The exhibit included items relating to the Thai traditional arts, religious life, and culture such as Buddhist monk's equipment, the royal heraldic seal, and scale models of the royal funerary chariot and of the magnificent royal barges. There were also leather shadow puppets representing figures from the Ramakien-- a Thai epic based on the Indian Ramayana-- and all of the stages and screens required for a shadow play, or nang, along with theatrical or khon masks of Ramakien characters. Also included were all of the musical instruments used in such performances.
Mask of Sukhrip the Red Monkey King of Khitkhin, Ally of Rama - Gift of King Rama V, 1876
Two Gold-plated Niellowware Betel Sets - Gift of King Rama V, 1876
This impressive exhibit also included common everyday items showing the richness of Siamese manufactured and agricultural goods, such as Siamese silkand cotton cloth, household items, clothing, objects relating to animal husbandry, basketry, metal and woodworking tools, artists' painting and sculpting tools, fish traps and other fishing gear, mats, ceramics, and, reminiscent of the “Gift of Respect,” samples of exotic woods and mineral ores and agricultural items (including 66 samples of various strains of rice at various stages of rice gestation).

Because of their perishable nature, many of the objects from the Centennial Exposition Siam Exhibit have deteriorated and are no longer in existence, including the tobacco and rice samples as well as the silk Royal Umbrellas.

The remaining pieces have been conserved and are under study at the Smithsonian since 1989 as part of the “Heritage of Thailand” project.

Gallery 1

1a. Robert's Treaty, 1833

1b. Harris Treaty, 1856

1c. Status & Rank of the Presidents

Gallery 2

2a. H.M. King Chulongkorn's Gifts

2b. Centennial Exposition, 1876

2c. 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

Gallery 3

3a. Institutional Gifts

3b. Recent Gifts to the US

3c. Thai Royal Gifts in Perspective

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