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Hamish Johnston – 500 words on V&A.

March 5, 2017

The collection I observed within the V&A museum was ‘The Earlier Kingdoms of Thailand’.

The artefact I specifically focused on was the ‘Tonsure Scissors (Takrai) and Ceremonial Razor (Mit Khone)’. The object was used to cut top knots off royal children during their coming of age ceremony called their ‘Sokanta’. The end of the handle contains gemstones which were believed to have protective powers, blessing the child during their ceremony.

The item originates from and was crafted in Bangkok, Thailand which I found interesting as having visited Thailand myself, it is clear that although the country has become an extremely popular destination for tourists their sacred rituals still very much remain. The country has an extremely strong emphasis on Buddhism and respects the religion and its sacred practices to this day.

Another reason the item stood out to me was due to the fact that when reading about it, I the ‘topknot’ hair style has become a style which can be seen in Westernised cultures in the past few years. It is interesting how through the innovation of technology and media that these Asian styles have played such a role in Westernised fashion.

The text linked to the artefact states that it was made some time between 1800-50 yet does not credit the designer, craftsman. The reasoning behind this, I assume, is due to the fact that it would not have been noted as part of the artefact and retained as information in correlation to it.

The object has an extremely specific audience and it is very unlikely that you would find such an object being used in a westernised environment.

The collection was gifted to the V&A by the Royal Thai Government which is stated on a plaque at the end of the cabinet. This statement implies that the museum has extremley good global links and not only reaches out to an audience of the UK but also other countries and continents around the world.

The museum justifies its choice of artifacts very well and the hallway which is filled with culturally similar objects seems to flow nicely as well as look like it has been considered in terms of placement and arangement.

Due to the history of the V&A originating as a Design school, everything that is presented within the building goes to say something about the subject of design and in a way represents it. Due to this their selection of artefacts displayed in the museum must be carefully considered as whatever they present will have connotations of the subject of design. I feel by displaying a wide range of artefacts from around the world it shows that the subject of design can be applied and is infulenced by a vast verity of cultures and practices.


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