Tai Lue Heritage

Jurgen

Moderator
Oct 23, 2009
676
118
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www.chopard.org
Thank you again Jurgen for another great post. Was Henri Mouhot part of that expedition?
No Odvar, he was a precursor, the first to rally Luang Prabang by foot (from Thailand) and he died there ... but he opened the way for the Mekong Explorers who were followed by Pavie (the barefoot explorer) , the one who shaped colonial France in the region ... and the (final) fate of the Tai Lue
 

scotty007

Ol'Timer
Feb 23, 2004
195
66
28
Absolutely stunning photography and a great and very interesting narrative, you are a true star Jurgen! Keep up the fantastic reports!
 

Heineken

Ol'Timer
Mar 2, 2019
179
258
63
Very thorough report Jurgen with amazing photos, you have spent alot of time putting this thread together :cool:


I like the portrait photos, especially the lady with the big smile you photographed 7 years earlier, she looks so happy :grinning:
 

Moto-Rex

Moderator
Jan 5, 2008
944
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63
Really love this report Jurgen, you capture the essence of the people of this region, with your incredible photography.

Thanks for the report.

Moto-Rex
 

Jurgen

Moderator
Oct 23, 2009
676
118
43
www.chopard.org

5. Tha Fa Tai, a precious sighting



Google maps


Despite being a biker’s favorite (see GT-rider post [1]), Route 1091, south of Chun, is in fact, an alternate path, part of a link between Phayao and Nan, a moderately travelled itinerary.

When rushing through Chiang Muan, travelers might find the environment nondescript, but slowing down yields amazing discoveries enveloped in history (see GT-rider post [1])

Learning that Phayao was separated from Chiangrai in 1977, to become a new North Thailand province, is quite a shortcut, discounting the region’s primordial role, as a Tai city-state kingdom, in Lanna’s construction.

In accordance with the legend, Phukamyao (Phayao) was set-up, as early as 1094, by Khun Chom Tham (King Jom Dham), a member of the Lao family ruling Hiran (in the Golden Triangle).

Some years later, in 1287, as King Mengrai had established Chiangrai and begun to unify Lanna, he discovered a flourishing city and met a valuable partner in Phaya Ngam Mueang, Phayao’s ruler.

i-3g3ZhZ9-XL.jpg

Phaya Ngam Mueang, the ninth-generation ruler of Phayao


Together with King Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai, the “Three Kings” formed a strong alliance (1287) which led to the region’s two hundred prosperous years, under different leaders, but ended in decadence and with the Burmese occupation (1558).

Deportations and migrations, completely depopulated Lanna during the Burmese rule. When, after 1776, King Kawila, with the help of Siam, had liberated the region, he launched several campaigns, in neighboring states, to harvest dwellers. His policy is known under the motto: "Put vegetables into baskets, put people into towns."

Similar “repopulation” actions were led for other northern regions, particularly Phayao and Nan provinces [2].

Here we segue to our main story, as Chiang Muan district (Phayao province) had an important stream of Tai Lue immigrants, the builders of the “Tha Fa Tai” temple; one of the most beautiful construction of its kind, a testimonial of these craftsmen’s skills.

Acknowledging its value, the “Fine Arts Department” has registered it as a historic site in 1981.

i-MzMTDTm-L.jpg

Tha Fa Tai entrance signboard


i-dX56FKK-L.jpg

Tha Fa Tai temple is a precious sighting


i-Fqq7bHH-XL.jpg

Temple’s information panel


As stated on the information panel, the temple has been built in 1856, at the Ratanakosin period’s beginning.

It was the time when “King Suriyaphong Phraridet defeated Muang Phong, in Sipsongpanna, and brought a thousand Tai Lue settlers to Chiang Muan and Chiang Kham”.

Despite being of typical Tai Lue architecture, this building style is quite seldom in North Thailand. Its character is drafted by a square base and a three-tiered roof, with a first level covering all fours sides. Wooden shingles are still used, keeping the retro effect, while contrasting with the blue gables’ luminosity

i-Xc67Rhj-L.jpg

Delicately decorated blue gables


i-p4p6GqM-L.jpg

The Tai Lue style Vihan is low, reducing the amount of light reaching inside the hall.


The temple’s roof cap is decorated with peacocks, a symbol of Sip Song Panna (Tai Lue homeland) where this bird is believed to have originated. Naga figures also adorn the gables’ lower sides, stretching their bodies down along the walls. The blooming flower pattern is enhanced with mirrors to keep evils at large.

i-jH65Ffm-L.jpg

Finely decorated gables featuring peacock and naga sculptures


The temple’s viharn is not permanently accessible but, if the Abbot is present, he will be happy to open the doors and show visitors around.

In usual Tai Lue tradition, the hall is decorated with flags, the sacred “tungs”, handmade as offerings to the temple and believed to help dead people to reach the heaven.

i-mxmN94s-XL.jpg

Sacred “tungs” decorate the viharn


As stated on the information panel, the main Buddha image is made of Pradu wood (rose wood) and was brought over from Sip Song Panna

i-LcCg9Jj-XL.jpg

Buddha images inside the Viharn


Ancient palm leaf books are also kept in the temple. Such documents provide a wealth of knowledge about traditions, as well as historical and religious events. They are widely available in North Thailand where microfilming projects are setup in order to make them available (online) to interested scholars and protect them from aging and destruction [3].

i-WxtXsS7-L.jpg

A Tai Lue palm leaf book


The Tai Lue alphabet is a derivate from Lanna script (Tham script). Similar writings are used by other Tai speaking communities, albeit with variations (4).

i-r3jJWkn-L.jpg

Panel displaying the Tai Lue alphabet


A weaving center has been setup on the temple’s ground. As it is the most visited place in the village, it is a strategic location to showcase Tai Lue textile productions and to commercialize them. On a couple of looms, villagers demonstrate their crafts and sell their products.

i-FBqVKgr-L.jpg

Working on a loom, inside the temple’s compound

Tai Lue people also produce Khom Thammajak (octagonal hanging Lanna lanterns) as temple offerings, to pay respect to Lord Buddha, and for decoration at home.

i-4vFRq2n-XL.jpg

Lanna lantern, in Tai Lue style, the top handles are “cat ears”.


i-rZGLtnf-XL.jpg

Working on loom to produce a Pa Thung (sarong)


JCZ_0267-XL.jpg

Face covering is mostly respected these days


i-fXMrgLZ-XL.jpg

A Tai Lue loom installed inside the temple’s compound


From “Cultural Heritage of Tai Lue Textiles” [2]:
“The Tai Lue in Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan have the standard structure of sin ta and is unique in that it has a small decorative motif in the middle with the ko technique making the pattern like a water wave. The natives often refer to this as phak waen (clover leaf) design…”

i-qjfrqzC-XL.jpg

Typical Chiang Muan Tai Lue costume design


Wat Tha Fa Tai is located at Ban Fa Si Thong, village No. 11, Sa Subdistrict, Chiang Muan District, Phayao Province, about 20 km from Chiang Muan District.
It is part of a three Tai Lue villages compound, together with Moo 2 Ta Fa Tai and Moo 7 Ta Fa Mai.

i-2vm7wBM-L.jpg

A typical Tai Lue house in Fa Si Thong village


As usual for Tai Lue habitats, the village was built near to a river, which flows just behind the temple, irrigating fertile fields. It is the Yom, a tributary to the Nan river. Amazingly, its watershed, near Pong, is just a splash away from the Ing’s river watershed. Thus, clouds have the choice to discharge showers in the western Chao Phraya or in the eastern Mekong basin, as both rivers have sources close to each other, in the Phi Pan Nam Range. (4)

i-ttKgcBr-L.jpg

A Tai Lue house in Fa Si Thong village village


i-BDHN9vg-L.jpg

Tai Lue textiles are often still produced at home and some houses feature looms on the ground floor.


i-ntNFmf2-L.jpg

Working on a loom under the house


i-5Vbmzv8-XL.jpg

Other handicrafts are produced in the village. Fai Kuntawong is showing a basket of fancy handmade pencils, produced with small branches.


i-4zpRQdt-L.jpg

Ta Fa Tai is a small temple, not along a main itinerary, but well worth a stopover, or even to be scheduled as a trip’s destination.
See also GT-rider write up “Wat Tha Fa Tai” [1]



---------------------------------------------

Notes


[1] GTrider referenced write-up:

Riding The Yom River & R1091
Pong - Phayao - Attractions
Wat Tha Fa Tai


[2] Cultural Heritage of Tai Lue Textiles
Soangsak Prangwatanakin
Thai Department, Faculty of Humanities, Chiangmai University
August 2008

(page 29) 3.2 Tai Lue in Phayao
The group lives in two districts of Phayao, namely Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan. Historical evidence indicates that this group came with their counterpart in Nan.

However, their textile weaving style is different. The Tai Lue in Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan have the standard structure of sin ta and is unique in that it has a small decorative motif in the middle with the ko technique making the pattern like a water wave. The natives often refer to this as Phak waen (clover leaf) design…


[3] Several manuscript preservations programs have been launched in North Thailand. An important project is supported by the German government and led by Prof Hundius.


[4] Tai Lue script is ISO 639-3 referenced under “khb”. It resembles the old Lanna writing which itself shares similarities with Khmer, Burmese and Thai, pointing to evolutions from a common ancestor, the Pallava script (Tamil-Brahmi) from South India.


[5] Phi Pan Nam Range, from Wikipedia:
Its name in Thai roughly means "the mountains of the spirits dividing the waters", 'spirits' (phi) here referring to ancient mountain deities of Thai folklore.




 

Oddvar

Ol'Timer
Mar 18, 2013
453
274
63
Very nice write up, thanks for sharing.
It's basically in my backyard so I will check it out on my next coffee ride to Chiang Muan.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,479
2,899
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Brilliant stuff again Jurgen, the history and migration of the Lue is a fascinating story throughout the region & especially all the little places they pop up in North Thailand.

I didn't know the bit about the peacocks
The temple’s roof cap is decorated with peacocks, a symbol of Sip Song Panna (Tai Lue homeland) where this bird is believed to have originated. Naga figures also adorn the gables’ lower sides, stretching their bodies down along the walls. The blooming flower pattern is enhanced with mirrors to keep evils at large.


i-jH65Ffm-L.jpg


Finely decorated gables featuring peacock and naga sculptures

but what I have noticed too at that wat is a peacock aviary out the back & across the street.
I should have some photos somewhere, that I took there sometime in the last 6 months.
 

DKT Dave

Ol'Timer
Sep 25, 2019
72
82
18
5. Tha Fa Tai, a precious sighting



Google maps


Despite being a biker’s favorite (see GT-rider post [1]), Route 1091, south of Chun, is in fact, an alternate path, part of a link between Phayao and Nan, a moderately travelled itinerary.

When rushing through Chiang Muan, travelers might find the environment nondescript, but slowing down yields amazing discoveries enveloped in history (see GT-rider post [1])

Learning that Phayao was separated from Chiangrai in 1977, to become a new North Thailand province, is quite a shortcut, discounting the region’s primordial role, as a Tai city-state kingdom, in Lanna’s construction.

In accordance with the legend, Phukamyao (Phayao) was set-up, as early as 1094, by Khun Chom Tham (King Jom Dham), a member of the Lao family ruling Hiran (in the Golden Triangle).

Some years later, in 1287, as King Mengrai had established Chiangrai and begun to unify Lanna, he discovered a flourishing city and met a valuable partner in Phaya Ngam Mueang, Phayao’s ruler.

i-3g3ZhZ9-XL.jpg

Phaya Ngam Mueang, the ninth-generation ruler of Phayao


Together with King Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai, the “Three Kings” formed a strong alliance (1287) which led to the region’s two hundred prosperous years, under different leaders, but ended in decadence and with the Burmese occupation (1558).

Deportations and migrations, completely depopulated Lanna during the Burmese rule. When, after 1776, King Kawila, with the help of Siam, had liberated the region, he launched several campaigns, in neighboring states, to harvest dwellers. His policy is known under the motto: "Put vegetables into baskets, put people into towns."

Similar “repopulation” actions were led for other northern regions, particularly Phayao and Nan provinces [2].

Here we segue to our main story, as Chiang Muan district (Phayao province) had an important stream of Tai Lue immigrants, the builders of the “Tha Fa Tai” temple; one of the most beautiful construction of its kind, a testimonial of these craftsmen’s skills.

Acknowledging its value, the “Fine Arts Department” has registered it as a historic site in 1981.

i-MzMTDTm-L.jpg

Tha Fa Tai entrance signboard


i-dX56FKK-L.jpg

Tha Fa Tai temple is a precious sighting


i-Fqq7bHH-XL.jpg

Temple’s information panel


As stated on the information panel, the temple has been built in 1856, at the Ratanakosin period’s beginning.

It was the time when “King Suriyaphong Phraridet defeated Muang Phong, in Sipsongpanna, and brought a thousand Tai Lue settlers to Chiang Muan and Chiang Kham”.

Despite being of typical Tai Lue architecture, this building style is quite seldom in North Thailand. Its character is drafted by a square base and a three-tiered roof, with a first level covering all fours sides. Wooden shingles are still used, keeping the retro effect, while contrasting with the blue gables’ luminosity

i-Xc67Rhj-L.jpg

Delicately decorated blue gables


i-p4p6GqM-L.jpg

The Tai Lue style Vihan is low, reducing the amount of light reaching inside the hall.


The temple’s roof cap is decorated with peacocks, a symbol of Sip Song Panna (Tai Lue homeland) where this bird is believed to have originated. Naga figures also adorn the gables’ lower sides, stretching their bodies down along the walls. The blooming flower pattern is enhanced with mirrors to keep evils at large.

i-jH65Ffm-L.jpg

Finely decorated gables featuring peacock and naga sculptures


The temple’s viharn is not permanently accessible but, if the Abbot is present, he will be happy to open the doors and show visitors around.

In usual Tai Lue tradition, the hall is decorated with flags, the sacred “tungs”, handmade as offerings to the temple and believed to help dead people to reach the heaven.


i-mxmN94s-XL.jpg

Sacred “tungs” decorate the viharn


As stated on the information panel, the main Buddha image is made of Pradu wood (rose wood) and was brought over from Sip Song Panna

i-LcCg9Jj-XL.jpg

Buddha images inside the Viharn


Ancient palm leaf books are also kept in the temple. Such documents provide a wealth of knowledge about traditions, as well as historical and religious events. They are widely available in North Thailand where microfilming projects are setup in order to make them available (online) to interested scholars and protect them from aging and destruction [3].

i-WxtXsS7-L.jpg

A Tai Lue palm leaf book


The Tai Lue alphabet is a derivate from Lanna script (Tham script). Similar writings are used by other Tai speaking communities, albeit with variations (4).

i-r3jJWkn-L.jpg

Panel displaying the Tai Lue alphabet


A weaving center has been setup on the temple’s ground. As it is the most visited place in the village, it is a strategic location to showcase Tai Lue textile productions and to commercialize them. On a couple of looms, villagers demonstrate their crafts and sell their products.

i-FBqVKgr-L.jpg

Working on a loom, inside the temple’s compound

Tai Lue people also produce Khom Thammajak (octagonal hanging Lanna lanterns) as temple offerings, to pay respect to Lord Buddha, and for decoration at home.

i-4vFRq2n-XL.jpg

Lanna lantern, in Tai Lue style, the top handles are “cat ears”.


i-rZGLtnf-XL.jpg

Working on loom to produce a Pa Thung (sarong)


JCZ_0267-XL.jpg

Face covering is mostly respected these days


i-fXMrgLZ-XL.jpg

A Tai Lue loom installed inside the temple’s compound


From “Cultural Heritage of Tai Lue Textiles” [2]:
“The Tai Lue in Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan have the standard structure of sin ta and is unique in that it has a small decorative motif in the middle with the ko technique making the pattern like a water wave. The natives often refer to this as phak waen (clover leaf) design…”

i-qjfrqzC-XL.jpg

Typical Chiang Muan Tai Lue costume design


Wat Tha Fa Tai is located at Ban Fa Si Thong, village No. 11, Sa Subdistrict, Chiang Muan District, Phayao Province, about 20 km from Chiang Muan District.
It is part of a three Tai Lue villages compound, together with Moo 2 Ta Fa Tai and Moo 7 Ta Fa Mai.

i-2vm7wBM-L.jpg

A typical Tai Lue house in Fa Si Thong village


As usual for Tai Lue habitats, the village was built near to a river, which flows just behind the temple, irrigating fertile fields. It is the Yom, a tributary to the Nan river. Amazingly, its watershed, near Pong, is just a splash away from the Ing’s river watershed. Thus, clouds have the choice to discharge showers in the western Chao Phraya or in the eastern Mekong basin, as both rivers have sources close to each other, in the Phi Pan Nam Range. (4)

i-ttKgcBr-L.jpg

A Tai Lue house in Fa Si Thong village village


i-BDHN9vg-L.jpg

Tai Lue textiles are often still produced at home and some houses feature looms on the ground floor.


i-ntNFmf2-L.jpg

Working on a loom under the house


i-5Vbmzv8-XL.jpg

Other handicrafts are produced in the village. Fai Kuntawong is showing a basket of fancy handmade pencils, produced with small branches.


i-4zpRQdt-L.jpg

Ta Fa Tai is a small temple, not along a main itinerary, but well worth a stopover, or even to be scheduled as a trip’s destination.
See also GT-rider write up “Wat Tha Fa Tai” [1]



---------------------------------------------


Notes


[1] GTrider referenced write-up:

Riding The Yom River & R1091
Pong - Phayao - Attractions
Wat Tha Fa Tai


[2] Cultural Heritage of Tai Lue Textiles
Soangsak Prangwatanakin
Thai Department, Faculty of Humanities, Chiangmai University
August 2008

(page 29) 3.2 Tai Lue in Phayao
The group lives in two districts of Phayao, namely Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan. Historical evidence indicates that this group came with their counterpart in Nan.

However, their textile weaving style is different. The Tai Lue in Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan have the standard structure of sin ta and is unique in that it has a small decorative motif in the middle with the ko technique making the pattern like a water wave. The natives often refer to this as Phak waen (clover leaf) design…


[3] Several manuscript preservations programs have been launched in North Thailand. An important project is supported by the German government and led by Prof Hundius.


[4] Tai Lue script is ISO 639-3 referenced under “khb”. It resembles the old Lanna writing which itself shares similarities with Khmer, Burmese and Thai, pointing to evolutions from a common ancestor, the Pallava script (Tamil-Brahmi) from South India.


[5] Phi Pan Nam Range, from Wikipedia:
Its name in Thai roughly means "the mountains of the spirits dividing the waters", 'spirits' (phi) here referring to ancient mountain deities of Thai folklore.

Thanks Jurgen for yet another great write up. I will add that way to my list of places to visit, in a town I get to fairly regularly.