The Thais have their own culture (including literature, drama, architecture, music, painting, sculpture, folk dances, and many handicrafts), their own language, their own cuisine, their own martial arts, and their own beliefs. Though many fortuitous Indian and Chinese cultural traits have partially influenced Thai culture in many aspects, it is the mixture of these and Thai eclecticism that has, over the centuries, developed the idiosyncratic culture that is unique to Thailand.
Towards the end of the 19th century, a passion for the outward trappings of Western culture manifested itself in Thailand. However, the more refined Thai arts and crafts, such as those elegant accessories and ceremonial objects created for use in royal palaces, aristocratic homes, and Buddhist temples, were not entirely suppressed by the newfound taste for Western goods. Such items, displaying the highest levels of skill, had originated in the first independent Thai capital of Sukhothai and continued to be produced through the 400-year rule of Ayutthaya, and into the Rattanakosin, or Bangkok, Period. They and their creators were known as chang, which roughly means “craft” or “craftsmen”. Production of such refined crafts increased enormously in the Ayutthaya Period. To supply these needs, a large body of chang evolved, passing their specialized skills down from master to apprentice and eventually forming a hierarchy of their own.