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Lan Na Art


Mon Art Chiang Mai


  • Lan Na art and architecture refers to two distinct styles from two distinct ethnic groups in Northern Thailand. The first is that of the Mon people who inhabited the region before the arrival of the Tai and the latter refers to that after 1300 and the arrival of the Tai Yuan (or Khon Muang).
  • In the Mon controlled Thailand there was the Dvaravati Kingdom of the central Chao Phra Valley and to its north the Mon Kingdom of Haripunchai, the capital of which was the town Haripunchai (now called Lamphun).
  • Mon Haripunchai architecture is distinct in form and serves Buddhist functions. The better examples are, Wat Chamatewi in Lamphun, the Chedi of Wat Phya in Nan, Wat Chedi Ched Yot in Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Si Liem built in Wiang Kun Gam (1300), the Suwanan Chedi at Wat Phra That Haripunchai in Lamphun (9th C) and the brick Chedi of Chiang Saen's Wat Pasuk (1295).
  • Mon Haripunchai sculpture was unique in style and has no images of Hindu deities unlike the art elsewhere in Thailand. This Buddhist art is in stone, terracotta, stucco and bronze. The facial features are distinctly styled and the mode of dress is Indian, (9th –10th C Pala-Sena style of north eastern India). The facial features include curly hair, well proportioned bodies, prominent eyes, incised moustaches and neck wrinkles typically not Thai as we understand today's ethnic features of the locals. The art style was influence by Pala in India. Good examples can be seen at the National museum at Lamphun, Wat Phra That Haripunchai and Wat Chamatewi (both also in Lamphun).
  • Lan Na style more commonly refers to that of the Tai Yuan who conquered the Mon Empire. This takes various forms over 700 years and to some also includes the work directed to be made during the 218 years of Burmese occupation. Variations in style emerge between Chiang Saen, Nan, Phayao, Chiang Mai and other regions. This Lan Na style was originally influenced by the Indian Pala style as seen at Wat Chedi Chet Yod in Chiang Mai, then with Khmer subject matter, such as the mythical creatures, Kala, Naga etc. The ethnic Tai influences vary also between the Tai Lao, the Tai Lue and Tai Yai etc.
  • When the Burmese conquered Lan Na in 1556 the local artisans lost their patronage and major art projects ceased. We then see the introduction of Burmese style into the region for the next 218 years and these examples are regionally scattered depending upon the pattern of Burmese occupation. Is this art in Lan Na or Lan Na art?