Lan Na Kingdom

Evolution of Lan Na Kingdom

Lan Na had been the old and powerful kingdom since the early times. According to Lan Na Chronicles, in the year Kad Sai, B.E. 1181 (A.D. 638) Thai Yuan principalities had been consolidated into a leading, powerful kingdom. It corresponded to the neighborhoods of Chiang Lao-Chiang Saen, the first ruler of which was Lava-changaraj. And King Lava-changaraj was succeeded by many kings until Phya Mangrai, the 25th monarch of Lava-changaraj Dynasty (B.E. 1805-1854 / A.D. 1262-1311). From there the Thai Yuan people extended their territory to Lamphun and later founded Chiang Mai in B.E. 1839 (A.D. 1296). Since then Mangrai Dynasty had been ruling Chiang Mai for over 200 years. During this period Chiang Mai had developed in all aspects and become the center of Lan Na Kingdom until B.E. 2106 (A.D. 1558) when Lan Na had gone under the Burmese rule. As a result, there happened periodical uprisings in till B.E. 2317 (A.D. 1874) when King Taksin of Dhonburi in collaboration with Prince Kawila and Prince Chah-ban of Chiang Mai were able to expel Burmese troops from Lan Na territory. Thus Chiang Mai has been resuscitated bringing peace and unity back to Lan Na once again, especially Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lamphun which have a strong kinship relation. They had become important cities of Lan Na, which had ruling princes as vassal states of Bangkok until they have been annexed to the royal kingdom of Thailand in B.E. 2476 (A.D. 1933).

Before the Foundation of Lan Na Kingdom (before B.E. 1839 / A.D. 1296)

Aceording to historical and archaeological evidences, the Upper North of Thailand had already been populated by the two major ethnic groups.

1. The Community in Mae Kok Valleys.

It is mentioned in the Lan Na Chronicle that originally this area used to have been inhabited by the Krom (Khom) who built the city of Suwanna-Khomkham. But after the city collapsed, they departed and disappeared.

Afterwards, there was a king named Singhanati (Sinhanati) who evaccuated people from Yunnan and estabhished the city in the Mae Kok valleys and called it “Wiang Yonok”. And the city had collapsed once again and become a big pond.

In about the 12th Buddhist century (the 5th century A.D.) a new city had come into existence in the neighborhood of Muang Chiang Lao near Sai River, of which the first king was Lao Chong. It is the beginning of the Lao or Lava-changaraj Dynasty. Later, the center for administration was moved to the city of Ngoen Yang or Hiranyanakhon Ngoen Yang Chiang Saen in the neighborhood of Chiang Saen city. From among the ruling monarchs of Ngoen Yang, the outstanding ones are as follows:

Khun Chuang had extended his territory far and wide, encompassing Muang Kaeo (North Vietam), Lan Chang, Sibsong Panna, Thai Yai and Nan. As a consequence, these cities claimed that Khun Chuang is their ancestor, too.

Khun Chomtham brought his people and built the city of Phayao in the beginning of 17th Buddhist century (the 11th century A.D.) and enjoyed independence up until the late 19th Buddhist century (late 13th century A.D.) when Phayao had been annexed to Lan Na Kingdom.

Phya Lao Meng got married to Nang Thep Kham Khai and had one son named Phya Mangrai, who is the first king of Mangrai Dynasty and founded Chiang Mai and moved the center of political power and development from Ngoen Yang Chiang Saen to Chiang Mai.

2. The Community in the Upper Mae Ping Valleys.

This area was once a dwelling place of the aborigines called “Lua” or “Lawa”. They lived at the foothills of Doi Suthep and founded Wiang Nopburi. Their leader is Khun Viranga who used to wage war against Camadevi several times, the ruling Queen of Haripunchai orLamphun. But he was defeated every time, and had finally fallen under the rule of Queen Camadevi. However, the Lua had exercised some influence on the Lan Na people, such as the Indakhila Cult, the worship of Pu Sae and Ya Sae, etc.

Haripunchai or Lamphun was a contemporary of Chiang Saen, and was one of the cities that possessed high culture. According to the northern chronicle, the city was established in about B.E. 1310-1311 (A.D. 767-768) by a hermit named Vasuthep who, upon its completion, invited Princess Camadevi, the Mon, from Lavo (Lavapura) to come to rule the newly built city. The Princess had brought with her a variety of cultures. Among them, the most impotant is Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism. Afterwards, Queen Camadevi extended her political power, establishing Khelanga Nagara or Lampang for her younger son, Anantayasa, to rule. Hieripunchai enjoyed its independence for 130 years from B.E. 1700 to 1835 (A.D. 1157-1292) until it was conquered by King Mangrai during the reign of Phaya Yiba

Lan Na Kingdom during Mangrai Dynasty (B.E. 1839-2101-A.D. 1296-1558)

Since his reign at Ngoen Yang Chiang Saen in B.E. 1805 (A.D. 1252), King Mangrai had extended his power far and wide, covering many surrounding cities, like Chiang Rai and Fang. In B.E. 1835 (A.D. 1292) he sent his courtieer, Ai Fa, to spy at Haripunchai in order to create disharmony among Haripunchai people to such an extent that Mangrai was able to take over the city and ruled it for a while. After that, he abandoned it to Ai Fa and left for another place, building a new city called “Wiang Kumkam”. As this city was often flooded, he left Wiang Kumkam and went to build another city on the west bank of Mae Ping River and named it “Nopburi Sri Nakhon Ping Chiang Mai”, which had subsequently become the center for administration of Lan Na Kingdom.

After Mangrai’s reign, there have been a number of his descendants who had ruled Chiang Mai continuously for hundreds of years. Among them, the most eminent ones are as follows:

A list of Kings in Mangrai Dynasty That Ruled Chiang Mai
1. Phaya Mangrai B.E. 1839-1854 (A.D. 1295-1311)
2. Phaya Chai Songkhram B.E. 1854-1868 (A.D. 1311-1325)
3. Phaya Saen Phoo B.E. 1868-1877 (A.D. 1325-1332)
4. Phaya Khamfoo B.E. 1877-1879 (A.D. 1332-1336)
5. Phaya Phayoo B.E. 1879-1898 (A.D. 1336-1355)
6. Phaya Kue Na B.E. 1898-1928 (A.D. 1355-1384)
7. Phaya Saen Muangma B.E. 1928-1944 (A.D. 1384-1401)
8. Phaya Sam Fangkaen B.E. 1944-1984 (A.D. 1401-1441)
9. Phaya Tilokaraja B.E. 1984-2030 (A.D. 1441-1486)
10. Phaya Yod Chiang Rai B.E. 2030-2038 (A.D. 1486-1495)
11. Phaya Kaeo (Phra Muang Kaeo) B.E. 2038-2068 (A.D. 1495-1525)
12. Phaya Ket (Muang Ketklao, first time) B.E. 2068-2081 (A.D. 1525-1538)
13. Thao Sai (Thao Sai Kham) B.E. 2081-2086 (A.D. 1538-1543)
14. Phaya Ket (second time) B.E. 2086-2088 (A.D. 1543-1545)
15. Phra Nang Chiraprabha B.E. 2088-2089 (A.D. 1545-1546)
16. Phra Chaijetthadhiraj B.E. 2089-2090 (A.D. 1546-1547)
17. Thao Mae Ku (Mekuti Suddhiwong) B.E. 2094-2107 (A.D. 1547-1564)
18. Phra Nang Visuddhidevi. B.E. 2107-2121 (A.D. 1564-1578)

Lan Na during the Burmese Occupation (B.E. 2101-2317 / A.D. 1558-1774)

As a vassal state of Burma, Chiang Mai had to send Burma some tributes in terms of “silver trees, golden trees” and revenues, including foodstuffs in the wartime. As regards the administration, in the beginning the Burmese government did not come to take a direct rule but allowed Phra Mekuti to be the king of Chiang Mai as before. Howcver, Burma dethroned Phra Mekuti when he tried to gain independence and appointed Phra Nang Visuddhidevi or Nang Phaya Rajadevi as a ruler of Chiang Mai. Upon the termination of Phra Nang Visuddhidevi’s reign, the Burma government sent Burmese nobles and officials to rule Chiang Mai directly.

During a period of Burmese occupation of Lan Na, there have been cultural exchanges and fusion between the two countries, such as the cult of Phra Upagut, Phra Bua Khem, pagoda architecture, etc.

A list of Chiang Mai rulers while being dependent of Burma
1. Mangnararacho B.E. 2121-2150 (A.D. 1578-1607)
2. Phra Choi B.E. 2150-2151 (A.D. 1607-1608)
3. Phra Chaithip (Mong Koi Toh) B.E. 2151-2156 (A.D. 1608-1613)
4. Phra Choi (second time) B.E. 2156-2158 (A.D. 1613-1615)
5. Phra Chao Muang Nan B.E. 2158-2174 (A.D. 1615-1631)
6. Phaya Luang Thippanet B.E. 2174-2198 (A.D. 1631-1655)
7. Phts Saen Muang B.E. 2198-2202 (A.D. 1655-1659)
8. Chao Muang Phrae B.E. 2202-2215 (A.D. 1659-1672)
9. Uparaj Uang Sae (Ava City) B.E. 2215-2218 (A.D. 1672-1675)
10. Cheputrai (son of Chao Chekutra) B.E. 2218- ? (A.D. 1675- ?)
11. Mang Ranara B.E. 2250-2270 (A.D. 1707-1727)
12. Theppasing B.E. 2270-2270 (A.D. 1727-1727)
13. Chao Ongkham B.E. 2270-2302 (A.D. 1727-1759)
14. Chao Chan B.E. 2302-2304 (A.D. 1759-1761)
15. Chao Khi Hood (ex-monk, Wat Duangdee) B.E .2304-2306 (A.D. 1761-1763)
16. Po Abhaigamini (Po Akiagamuni) B.E. 2306-2311 (A.D. 1763-1768)
17. Po Mayunguan B.E. 2311-2317 (A.D. 1768-1774)

Lan Na during Vassal Statehood of Bangkok Regime or Period of Ruling Princes
(B.E. 2317-2476 / A.D. 1774-1933)

During a long period of having been under Burmese rule for over 200 years, Lan Na people had always been trying to regain independence but failed. It is not until B.E. 2317 (A.D. 1774) Phra Chao Taksin of Dhonburi, in collaboration with Phaya Kawila and Phaya Cha Ban of Chiang Mai, succeeded in expelling the Burmese troops from Chiang Mai. Consequently, Chiang Mai had changed from being dependent of Burma to have become a vassal state of Thailand. At that time, Phaya Cha Ban had been appointed Phaya Vajiraprakarn, the Chiang Mai ruler, while Phaya Kawila had been promoted to the position of Lampang ruler.

Upon the termination of Phaya Vajiraprakarn’s reign, King Rama I assumed the kingship of Bangkok and thereby Phaya Kawila was able to defeat the Burmese troops that retreated to get their strong hole at Chiang Saen. So Phaya Kawila was appointed ruler of Chiang Mai. Then he had resuscitated Chiang Mai, which at that time had become unpopulated for 20 years because while being Phaya Vajiraprakarn he had escape Burmese army to station at Pa Sang Lamphun.

Phaya Kawila had gathered and evacuated people from different places to settle down in Chiang Mai, which included the natives, Thai Yuan, and Tai such as Tai Yong, Tai Lue, Tai Khuen, Tai Yai, etc. It had become such a great resuscitation of Chiang Mai that it was generally called “Put vegetables into basket and put population into the city.”

Thus Ching Mai during the reign of Kawila had highly developed and its territory expanded far and wide, having become the superior of all 57 principalities. However, the most important of all in those days are only three: Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang and these three cities had had a closed relationship because all the successive rulers are descendants of the lineage of Chao Ched Ton who are all kinsmen. The central government granted them autonomy to rule themselves without internal intervention. So Chiang Mai was able to shape their administration system according to native traditions.

However, the central government did not allow them an absolute freedom but took indirect control by appointing the controllable persons to the five positions, which are high-level political positions presented by the king. The new appointees had to go to see the king in person at Bangkok in order to receive the seal and insignia. In addition, there were various ceremonies that had to be performed by the vassal states in order to show their loyalties. And inevitably Chiang Mai had to send royal tributes in every three years, including other things on certain occasions.

During the reign of Phra Chao Kawilorot Suriyawong, the 6th ruling prince of Chiang Mai, the northern vassal states had two major problems: the issuing of overlap forest patents and occasional chaos in the frontiers. Therefore, it was necessary for King Prachadhipok (Rama VII) of Bangkok regime to make the reform of Lan Na administration system once again. That is, the bureaucrats had declared the dissolve of the so-called administration. All the central cities of Lan Na Kingdom in the past have become a province of Thailand since then.

A list of ruling princes of Chiang Mai
1. Phaya Kawila B.E. 2324-2358 (A.D. 1781-1815)
2. Phaya Dhammalangka B.E. 2359-2364 (A.D. 1816-1821)
3. Phaya Khamfan B.E. 2364-2367 (A.D. 1821-1824)
4. Phaya Buddhawong B.E. 2367-2389 (A.D. 1824-1846)
5. Phra Chao Mahotrapradesh B.E. 2390-2396 (A.D. 1847-1852)
6. Phra Chao Kawilorot Suriyawong B.E. 2396-2413 (A.D. 1852-1870)
7. Phra Chao Inthawijayanon B.E. 2413-2440 (A.D. 1870-1897)
8. Phra Chao Inthawarorot Suriyawong B.E. 2440-2452 (A.D. 1897-1909)
9. Chao Kaeo Nawarath B.E. 2452-2482 (A.D. 1909-1939)

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