Wednesday, February 2, 2005
I had wondered whether the fact that North Thailand, (previously known as Lanna, with Chiang Mai as its center) was annexed relatively late (1893) into the Thai Kingdom, could have been the motivating reason which Thai government officials chose not the recognize North Thailand's history as part of its national history. The birth of the Thai nation is counted from the Sukhothai period, and the origin of the Thai script as deriving from King Ramkamhaeng's script as found in the stone inscription of 1283. This writing of history from a nationalistic perspective seems to me to be a distortion of history. Now that the cold war detante is long over, history could be taught without this harmful nationalistic bent and we could avoid many of the problems we have with our intimate neighbors, such as Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. Southeast Asia's history as a region really is very fascinating if one could view it as historical processes without boundaries. We tend to not be aware that national boundaries were imposed on us not so long ago. I'm not proposing we do away with national boundaries. For governmental administration it has become a necessity. However, if we could view the region as multi-cultures that have co-existed and influenced each other at many levels through several centuries a "renaissance" of SE Asian cutlures could well flower.
Jao Dara Rasamee's mairrage to King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, cemented relations between Lanna and "Siam". The ruling dynasty of Chiang Mai, Gawila, however, ended only in 1939 with the death of King Gaew Nawarat.