Thao Suranaree, local 19th century/Rattanakosin era Korat heroine. My mother is from Korat. This makes her kickass. She moved from there when she was quite young so she is considered, like a lot of “ethnic” Thais from the outer provinces, “centralised”. Thai-fied. But that is another topic altogether.
To move onto the actual representation of this awesome Thai woman: obviously you cannot get up close in situ as it’s on a tall plinth, but if you’re in Bangkok and you’re near Silpakorn University, there is a plaster version of Thao Suranaree in the sculpture hall. The sculptor is of course the Italian born, quite renowned and beloved Silpa Bhirasri (born Corrado Feroci). Full of nationalism and strongly informed by a “classical” Florentine art education, his sculptures emphasize naturalism and aim to convey the abstract and desirable qualities such as dignity, nobility, bravery, national pride.
What I find so interesting about this representation of Thao Suranaree is that she is so very solid in bearing. Her figure is firm and square. She has wide, prominent cheekbones - that trope of the Northeastern physiognomy - and a broad forehead, broad nose and mouth, square chin. Her hair is cropped short and all but shaved at the sides in the traditional Thai hairstyle. One shoulder is bare.
You generally will not see such features in the Thai media. Which is a shame, as such faces are striking and very much exist.