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Daily Life Style of Lanna Era

LANNA HAS SOME of the most beautiful temples in all of Thailand, and there are a lot of them -- over 3000 are known. Many; were founded in the centuries of Lanna's greatest prosperity -- in the 14th and 15th centuries after the North was united under King Mengrai in 1292. Only a few of these temples, however, have old murals painted on their walls, and those that still exist were probably executed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, after Chiangmai and the North had been rescued from Burmese domination.

The Burmese had invaded in the late 1550's, their incursion perhaps presaged by a violent earthquake that damaged the city's main wats which struck Chiangmai in 1545. With only a few respites the Burmese ruled the North until Chiangmai was recaptured in 1776. The present Chiangmai royal family, its last legal ruler having been Prince Kaew Nawarat who died in 1938, is descended from the general who led the reconquest, Chao Gawila. Over the next one hundred and fifty years, many temples were refurbished, some of them under the patronage of the new Chiangmai royal family.

One of the nicest things about temple murals is the glimpse they give into everyday life one; hundred years ago. "Like having a 100-year old video" say some. About 40 - 50% of the space may be filled with scenes from everyday life: people playing games, people doing domestic chores or at leisure in their homes or on the street, people going to market and other activities.

Modern day revivalists of old Lanna culture are learning a lot from these old murals, about modes of transport about everyday clothing styles, what household utensils and tools were common and more. Instead of reproducing original temple mural paintings, the following modern presentations illustrate the daily life style of Lanna era.


Northern people continue to follow the traditional eating pattern of preparing meals two times per day --breakfast and dinner. Glutinous or sticky rice is the main staple in the diet. Family members usually help each other with meal chores from the senior members down to the young ones. The kitchen utensils are primitive but ingenious and hygienic.

food for monks

Rural Thai people usually wake before dawn to prepare a fresh breakfast. After cooking is completed, they prepare a set meal before eating their own breakfast of rice, various curry dishes, vegetables or fruit. This food is offered to the village monks who carry alms bowls through the village. Sharing food daily with monks is a traditional act of Buddhist merit-making .

working fields

Lanna people grow vegetables, plants and fruit for several purposes in small plots of land. Their families to consume, to make traditional medicines, to exchange and to sell. Local folk are very knowledgeable about the medicinal properties of herbs and plants.For added income villagers raise animals or fish that often turns into large scale production.

ox carts

Before farmers return to their homes after a day's work in the fields during the harvest season, they must ensure the harvest crops will not be damaged. The crops will be taken on ox-carts to safe storage areas. For longer distances, Lanna villagers prefer to carry farm produce from town to town on horses. Both kinds of transport are economical within the range of farmers.

spinning thread

Women's work is never done. After dinner young women spend time to develop skills necessary to produce handicrafts made by their ancestors. One necessary but time consuming step in production of cloth is to spin cotton thread for weaving. Producing silk thread from silk worms is a labor intensive step. This is the time to be both diligent and social when a friend stops in.

making music

Thais are natural fun lovers. They like to sing and play Instruments. Years ago they developed musical instruments from basic agricultural items. Both men and women musicians are welcome to play in orchestra groups for an evening's entertainment and they also perform at various ceremonies to adding to the mood of the affair.

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