King of Mangrai Dynasty

King Mangrai
B.E. 1839 - 1854 (A.D. 1295 - 1311)

Phaya Mangraiís Monument situated in the middle of Chiang Rai City; it is deemed idol for public veneration as he was the founder of Chiang Rai and the first monarch of the Lan Na Kingdom. Source: Samai Suddhidharm. Sarakhadi Chut Thin Thong Khong Thai Chiang Rai. (Bangkok: Odien Store, 2539), p. 21.


King Mangrai was the first King of the Mangrai Dynasty. The previous dynasty, the Dynasty of Lao, had twenty four Kings. The Kings of the Lao Dynasty lived in the city of Chiang Lao now known as Chiang Saen. The first Lao King was Lao Chok, and the last Lao Meng, the father of Mangrai. King Mangrai had many titles. In the Chronicle of Yonok the King is called Phraya, Chao Phraya or Chao. Mangrai was also called Lao Mangrai4 as he was the last King of the Lao Dynasty, before moving to found a new capital and dynasty in Chiang Rai. On stone inscriptions and palm leaf documents in Lan Na Buddhism he is known as Phraya Mangrai or Phya Mangrai. King Mangraiís mother was Princess Thepkhamkai, the daughter of Prince Rung Kaen Chai of Chiang Rung. Mangrai was born just before dawn on a Sunday in the Month of Ai, around January of our present calendar, in the year 607 of the Culasakaraj Era, in the city of Chiang Lao, just over a kilometre from the modern town of Chiang Saen. The baby was named by his maternal grandfather at the month-of-birth blessing ceremony. The name Mangrai was made up from a few letters from the name of the childís father, the letter R from his grandfatherís name, the vowel ? and the letter Y from the name of his mother.

Mangraiís father, Lao Meng, died at the age of 75, and Mangrai succeeded to the throne. He was 21 years old. He immediately began to annex neighbouring city-states to his own. At the age of 23 he built the town of Chiang Rai on the banks of the Mae Kok River. Twelve years later, in 1272 the young King had extended his sovereignty to Fang, then a small city-state to the west. While in Fang, Mangrai heard of Haripunchai, a prosperous city-state of the Mon people to the south. He decided to claim this city for himself. To prepare for an invasion, he sent a secret agent, Ai Fa8 to Haripunchai to create disharmony and dissatisfaction in that city. After seven years in the city, Ai Fa succeeded in destroying the peopleís loyalty to their ruler, King Yeeba. Ai Fa sent a message to King Mangrai, who immediately invaded and captured Haripunchai.

Having conquered Haripunchai, King Mangrai delegated the ruling of that city-state to Ai Fa, and focused on expanding his kingdom further. He marched his troops to the frontier of Phyao, the city-state of King Ngam Muang to the south of Chiang Rai. In 1287 King Mangrai made peace treaties with King Ngam Muang, and with King Ruang of the city-state of Sukothai on the Khunpoo River.

King Mangrai lived for some time in a place called Seo, to the northeast of Haripunchai. In 1294 he built a new town called Wiang Kumkam. While living in Kumkam, the King made royal visits with many troops to Hamsavati and Ava. The King of Hamsavati gave him Princess Pai Go, his daughter, as consort. The King of Ava offered him 500 families of various types of artisans, who moved to live and work in the city of Wiang Kumkam.

However, Wiang Kumkam was found to be troubled by constant floods. The King ordered his men to seek for a new site on which to build another city. A place was found to the north of Kumkam, flat ground lying between the foot of Mount Suthep and the Mae Ping River. King Mangrai invited the two kings from the neighbouring city-states, King Ngam Muang and King Ruang, to come and help him examine the site and plan the new city. Thus the City of Chiang Mai was built. It was 900 arm spans (wa) in width and 1,000 arm spans in length, with moats and city walls and a royal residence.

The Chiang Mai-Lamphun road running through Wiang Kum Kam. At present, there appeared a trait of the Mae Ping River, which used to flow through in the past. Along both sides of the road running past Saraphi District, Chiang Mai Province the Yang trees(Dipterocarpus alatus) were planted. In the vicinity of entrance to Wiang Kum Kam there appeared the traits of ancient sanctuaries and Chedi.


The stone inscription at Wat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai reads:

ďAt the watch of the Dawn Trumpet plus two units of minutes and two baht, when Navalangna occupies the Minaya sign of the Zodiac on the 5th day of Taimoengplao, the 8th day of the waxing moon of the month of Visakha, the year of Ravayson, 658 of the Sakaraja Era was the birth of the city of Nopaburi Srinakorn Chiang MaiĒ.

Having constructed Chiang Mai as the capital city of his Kingdom, Mangrai began to expand his empire, assisted by his son, Khun Kram. Mangraiís Kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Lan Na, stretched from Sipsong Panna in the north, to the border of Sukhothai in the south, the Kingdom of Lan Chang in the east, and the Salween River marked the western borderline.

King Mangrai appears to have been a benevolent king. He built a market place and a bridge over the Mae Ping River at the town of Kumkam, a gem mine in the district of Mae Rim near Chiang Mai, and a 30 kilometre long bulwark to protect the town of Kumkam from the floods. At present this bulwark has been turned into the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road.

The inscription of Wat Chiang Man dated A.D. 1581; it is made of gray sandstone measuring 145 x 58 x 21 cm. It is found at Wat Chiangman, Tambon Sri Phum, Muang District, Chiang Mai Province. Its contents touch on Chiang Mai Cityís horoscope and merit-making ceremony at the Wat.


In 1280 an army of Mongols attacked Chiang Rung, but were forced back by King Mangraiís troops. This happened again in 1308, and again the King was able to drive the Mongol troops out of Chiang Rung. The war with the Mongols continued up until 1311. In 1315 and 1325 King Mangrai sent a peace delegation to the Mongols in China, and during the next several years he sent four more delegations.

King Mangraiís role in supporting Buddhism can be seen in his building of the Chedi Kukam in the town of Kumkam, and later when he enshrined Buddha relics inside the chedi. After the construction of Chiang Mai was completed, the King had Wat Chiang Man and a chedi built in the precinct of the royal residence.

One day, in the year of Moengsai of the Culasakaraj Era, while inspecting the market place in the centre of Chiang Mai from his seat on the back of an elephant, King Mangrai was struck by lightning. He died, at the age of 80. His son, Prince Chai Songkram, arranged for a cremation and religious rites, and had a stupa erected to enshrine the bones of the King, planted a Bo tree, and encircled the area with a wall. This small stupa has been rebuilt, and can be found today near the Klang Wiang intersection in Chiang Mai.

The stupa enshrining Phaya Mangraiís remains situated at the Klang Wiang Intersection.

The vault of ďKuĒ or stupa was built for enshrining Phaya Mangraiís remains near the spot where Phaya Mangrai was hit by the thunderbolt for public veneration.


Wat Chiangmanís Chedi was built in the Prasat style; it was probably built during the 16th century. Its base is surrounded by elephant figures. It is regarded as an important Wat for being the first monastery in Chiang Mai founded by Phaya Mangrai.

Ku Kham or angular Chedi built by Phaya Mangrai in order to enshrine his royal consortís remains. It was later restored in about the 20th century and decorated with plaster motifs by the Burmese businessman who was engaged in teak trade in Chiang Mai. As a result, its decorative designs are analogous to those of the Burmese.




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