Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lanna Culture (Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai)

As mentioned earlier when I was discussing my favorite new artist Krissadank Intasorn, Lanna culture is from the North of Thailand.  I live in the North East where we have Isan, or Lao cultural influences.  Thailand has had many different capitals and kingdoms in its history.  The Lana kingdom influenced the culture around Chiang Mai.  There are some similarities to Isan in the language and the food.  For instance, in Isan and in Chiang Mai, we eat sticky rice (glutinous rice)- Central Thailand eats jasmine rice.  In central Thailand, from my understanding, tattoos are traditionally something that is feared, and not done.  In Lana culture, and also in Isan, tattoos bring strength, power, and protection to the men.  When you look at Opal's artwork, you notice that the thighs of the "mysterious flower" are tattooed.  These leg tattoos are very common in males from the north.  To learn more about Lana culture you can go here or when you are in Bangkok you can go to visit the Kamthieng House off of Asoke road, a short walk from the BTS.  Here you can learn a lot about the culture, by seeing the rituals, house, tools, and textiles from the north of Thailand.  
Example of tattoos from Lanna culture and the tattoo pen below.  The ink traditionally contained cobra venom, and many other tinctures.  The tattoo artists are sometimes monks.  In "Child of the Northeast"  a great book about life in Isan in 1930, a chapter is about some gypsies who come to town to offer tattoos.  They cost 1-3 baht!  That was worth a lot more then.  Men who get the tattoos are well respected by others, especially women.  To learn more about these sacred tattoos, and others click here

I didn't understand these pieces of fabric completely.  They are meant to offer protection similar to the tattoos.  Why though, are there people copulating with animals?  I mean a woman and an elephant?  I don't think so.  I plan on researching the meaning of these more.

Many cultures in Thailand has totem poles in their village.  Here are two.

This is a rice calendar.  It uses the moon and auspicious days to determine when things happen like planting and harvesting.

This is a loi krathong made from bana leaves and flowers.  It looks like the head of Naga to me.  Here is a Naga that was the prow of a boat.

This is the rice goddess.  Every year a ceremonty would be preformed in the fields to ask her for a good harvest.    Below are great alternatives to plastic bags.  I hope to bring some home.

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