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The first of a series exploring the Peoples, Cultures and History of Northern Thailand. 12 articles, 18,000 words, 60 images

  • By Andrew Forbes and David Henley

The beautiful old walled city of Chiang Mai, set amid the forested mountains and fertile valleys of northern Thailand, is the historic capital of the former Lanna Kingdom. Founded in 1296 by King Mangrai the Great, it did not become fully part of Thailand until 1939, and even today the region retains a distinctly different character, with its own language, culture, cuisine and even temperament.

Although around 40 times smaller than Bangkok, with perhaps four percent of the Thai capital's population, Chiang Mai remains the nation's cultural capital, as well as its most attractive and historically significant city.

The authors have both lived in Chiang Mai for more than twenty years together with their Thai families, and consider Chiang Mai to be their home.

As some small repayment for the city and region they love - for Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand - in 2005 they began writing a series of monthly articles entitled 'Ancient Chiang Mai'. Now in its seventh year, the series examines in an eclectic, informative and hopefully entertaining way the history, culture and traditions of Chiang Mai and of its graceful and friendly people, the Northern Thais.

With twelve articles originally published in 2005, this eclectic collection of articles includes:

  • Wat Lok Moli: Topknot of the World
  • King Mae Ku: From Lan Na Monarch to Burmese Nat
  • The Satmahal Prasada: A Historic Link between Lan Na and Sri Lanka
  • Queen Hsinbyushinme: Lady of the Land 'Where Birds Rest and Birds Sleep'
  • Ralph Fitch: An Elizabethan Merchant in Chiang Mai
  • Ralph Fitch's Account of Chiang Mai in 1586-1587
  • Chiamay Lacus: Lan Na's Legendary Great Lake
  • Lamphun's Little-Known Animal Shrines
  • King Mangrai of Lan Na
  • Wat Ku Tao: Chang Phuak's 'Watermelon Temple'
  • Schomburgk's Account of 'Xiengmai' in 1859-1860
  • Schomburgk's Account of 'The Lao' in 1859-1860