The Jim Thompson House Museum

The James H.W. Thompson Foundation

"The House on the Klong"

Thompson inspecting silk pieces at the canal side, most probably in the village of Ban Krua, across from his residence. Convinced that the beauty and quality of Thai silk would have an appeal outside Thailand, Thompson successfully exported his silks internationally.

Thompson displaying some of his silks in the living room of his Thai house.

The House and the Garden
The visitor finds the Jim Thompson's old residence and tropical garden down a narrow Bangkok lane, just a block away from the bustling shopping districts.

The Thai house which is named "The Jim Thompson House Museum" was designed and built by Jim Thompson (September 1958 - April 1959). The residence is built on teak pillars a full floor above the ground.

For his new home, Thompson acquired several Thai houses from the Ayutthaya region, but the oldest and the most impressive dates from around 1800 and was a weaver's house from the Cham village of Bahn Krua.

Thompson on the building site. He brought a group of skilled carpenters down from Ayutthaya to reassemble the woodwork on a property across from Bahn Krua, the Cham village that wove his silk.

The house during construction. The property is facing the canal, or klong, across from the 250-year old Bahn Krua village, home to Jim Thompson’s Cham silk weavers.

"Jungle" is how Jim Thompson described his densely-planted garden, with lofty palms, golden bamboos and creepers. In general outline, the planting is the same as it was in Jim Thompson's time.

Two small buildings, formerly servant's quarters, have been turned into additional museum display space. On this photograph, the old gardener's house where paintings and manuscripts are now displayed.

The garden is constantly changing but the ambience has shifted from uncontrolled chaos to controlled chaos thanks to professional care. Here, the red ginger (Alpinia) grows nearby the small pond in the rear garden.

The Art Collection
Southeast Asian art

Thompson has been a collector of Thai antiques since 1946. In his new home, he displayed beautifully his collection of old Thai paintings, Buddhist sculpture, Chinese blue and white and various objets d’art. In general, the display of the collection remains the same as it was in Jim Thompson's time. Only the old pantry and servants quarters have been converted into exhibition pavilions in order to display benjarong porcelains, small objects and paintings.

Buddha Images
Dvaravadi, Lopburi and Ayutthaya styles

"Clothed in the robe of a monk, the Buddha held a flap of the robe in his left hand. The gentle outline of the hips give a remarkable impression of movement." Dvaravadi School.

Bust of Buddha in brown limestone. "The wide face with a strong nose and fleshy lips, round eyes and arched and joined eyebrows are very characteristic of the Dvaravadi school.”

"The hairstyle is of small curls topped by a flame-decorated ornament… A wide face with a strong chin, a wide mouth, slightly arched brows, and half-closed eyes." Ayutthaya school, U-Thong style.

"The thoughtful face, with closed eyes, reveals this to be an example of the Bayon art."

Other Sculptures from the Jim Thompson Collection
Srivijaya, Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Burmese Styles

Head of Surya, the Hindu sun-god, with large conical headdress; the face is flat and surrounded by a discus incised with lines representing the sun rays.

"Ardhanari, a Brahmin god representing Siva in half-male, half female form, symbolizes the union of masculine and feminine energies."

One of the four wooden figures of Burmese spirits, or Nat, which came from near Amarapura in Burma. These figures were given to Thompson when he went to Burma as an official guest in the 1950s.

The Life of Buddha
Phra Bot, sacred cloth, and paintings, Bangkok School.

The Birth of Buddha; Queen Mahamaya is standing under a tree and holding on a branch, giving birth to Gautama Buddha, in Lumpini. On the right side, the new born prince is surrounded by Indra, colored in green, and an angel.

Buddha returns to Kapilavatthu; the seated Buddha is preaching to his father and is in a meditative pose; he is surrounded by his disciples before the King and the court.

Thai religious Tales
Vessantara Jataka and Phra Malai.

An illustration of the thirtieth episode of the Vessantara Jataka, Nakhonkan, or the triumphant return from exile of Prince Vessantara to the Kingdom of Siva. This painting comes from the ancient northern kingdom of Lanna, now Chiang Mai province.

The legend of Phra Malai, a buddhist saint known for his travels to heaven and hell, figures prominently in Thai religious treatises. He is traditionally represented wearing the saffron robe, and holding a fan. On this painting, he visits the underworld in his quest for saving the mankind from sin and hell.

Thai Folklore, Village scenes, Horoscope

Cockfight at the village

Brahman Jati, the Siamese horoscope; here the year of the dog. A complete set of twelve astrological signs is displayed at the museum.

Benjarong & Lainamthong
Ceramics made in China for the Thai royalties

In 1963, Jim Thompson purchased an important collection of benjarong or Sino-Thai porcelains. Here, a covered bowl with a black background decorated with Thepanom and mythical animals.

A collection of three "toh" jars, with polychrome floral designs on a red-orange background, yellow and grey bands with floral scrolls around the rims.

Large covered bowl with gold knob rim and green foot rim, gold flowers, green foliage and birds on white background.

"Lai Nam Thong, Sino-Thai porcelain with gold background, first half of 19th century. It is delicately ornamented with flowers, leaves and birds".

Blue & White Ceramics
From China and Annam

A collection of Annamese blue and white.

A collection of Chinese blue and white.

A collection of Sino-Thai blue and white.

Decorative Arts
Chinese & Siamese artistry

The Mouse House: "A fanciful little structure that was made by 19th-century Chinese carvers to house pet white mice."

Credits: Story

The James H.W. Thompson Foundation

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