Ancient Chiang Mai Volumes 1 to 4
Cognoscenti Books are proud to release the first four volumes of their continuing series .
We started researching, writing and photographing articles for the series in 2005, publishing one article a month in the local Chiang Mai magazine Guidelines. Under the gentle but firm tutelage of that journal’s editor, our friend and colleague Geoffrey Walton, we have managed to maintain this schedule and are now in the process of completing our 84th ‘Ancient Chiang Mai’ article.
We have now decided to publish the first part of the series, comprising articles 1 to 48, in a set of four volumes covering the period 2005 to 2008. Each volume contains 12 separate essays with a total length of around 18,000 words per volume. Subjects covered are diverse and widespread, ranging from ancient temples, cities and settlements, through the accounts of traditional chronicles and early visitors, to religion – mainly but not exclusively Theravada Buddhism – and the region’s many ethnic groups.
Although called Ancient Chiang Mai, the series extends to cover the whole of Northern Thailand, encompassing the former Mon Kingdom of Haripunchai, which flourished between the 8th and 12th centuries CE and was based on the venerable city of Lamphun some 40km south of Chiang Mai, as well as the provinces of Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Chiang Rai, Phayao and Mae Hong Son.
The area is home to the Khon Mueang or Northern Thai – the predominant population since the – as well as to many other peoples including Karen, Hmong, Lisu, Mien, Akha and Lahu ‘hill tribes’ and ethnic Chinese. It is the most culturally diverse region in Thailand, and is immensely rich in history, tradition and customs.
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. More correctly spelled Lan Na, the name means ‘One Million Rice Fields’ in Thai. 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, both British, have lived in Chiang Mai for more than twenty years together with their Thai families, and consider Chiang Mai to be their home. Both foreign correspondents – one a writer, the other a photographer – they work as a close team. In 1993 they set up Crescent Press Agency, now CPA Media, and in 2010-11 they established an online image library, Pictures From History, specialising in historic and contemporary pictures of Asia, as well as Cognoscenti Books.
As some small repayment for the city and region they love – for Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand – in 2005 they began writing a monthly article 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.
We intend to publish a second collection of articles, numbered 49 to 84 and covering the years 2009 to 2011, in three further volumes early in 2012.
Meanwhile the series ANCIENT CHIANG MAI will continue, and we hope to publish a new volume annually, at the end of each year.
For a related collection of rare and colourful images, go to Pictures From History‘s Chiang Mai and the Lan Na Kingdom page and click on any of the images.