Lamphun Province, which is originally known as Mueang Hariphunchai, is an ancient city, over 1,343 years old. According to The Chronicle of Yonok, there is a story of how Mueang Hariphunchai was found by Wasuthep the Hermit, who gathered Mengkabut People, or Mon People, together and built this town in an area between two rivers, namely, Guang River and Ping River. After the town was built, he sent the envoy to invite a princess of Mueang Lawo “Prince Cham Thewi” to become the first queen and ruler of Mueang Hariphunchai. Her lineage ruled over this town for many generations, until the reign of Phraya Yiba, the town was lost to King Mengrai the Great, a great king who gathered various states of the North into Lanna Kingdom. Even though it was merged and governed by Lanna Kingdom, Mueang Lamphun was the model of art and culture for its ruler, as per many evidences that can be seen in Wing Kum Kam, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. Mueang Lamphun was, therefore, an important art and culture source of Lanna Kingdom, until the reign of King Taksin the Great, when Mueang Lamphun was annexed into the Kingdom of Thailand. Mueang Lamphun was governed by many rulers until the Rattanakosin Era, after the regime change in 1932, after the last monarch, Major General Chao Jukkham, had passed away; the town of Lamphun was reinstated as a province of Thailand and governed by the provincial governor unto this day.
“The Ancient City of Mueang Hariphunchai” was the most prosperous and the oldest kingdom of the North; whereas its history can be categorized into 4 eras, namely.
“The Pre-historical era”
There was an ancient town found in the area of Ban Wang Hai before the creation of Mueang Lamphun or Hariphunchai Kingdom, in the distance past of Ping – Guang Reiver Region. This town was known as ‘Samantarapratet’ and it was found shortly after the Buddhist Era had started, or approximately 2,000 years ago. The tale tells a story of a hermit, who traveled from the far away land of India into Suvarnabhumi and brought Brahmanism to this land. Afterward, this hermit mated with the local people and found a community whose people became the ancestors of the “Lua” or “Meng” People (Mon People), on the banks of Raming River (Ping River). There are many evidences that confirm the existence of the pre-historical people before the era of Mueang Hariphunchai, such as, the human remains found at Ban Wang Hai, Wiang Yong Sub-district, Mueang District of Lamphun Province in 1987. The archeologists studied and found that these remains were over 2,800 – 3,000 years old, and of the pre-historical people who already developed the tradition of burying the deceased with tool and equipment so they may use them in the afterlife. These people knew agriculture and found a settlement instead of drifting. They contacted with the outside world, namely, the merchants from Indo – Roman region, as per the evidences of beads, necklace, and bracelet made with quarts found in their burial site; and with the people from the Eastern Region, namely, the Dong Son – Guangxi Culture, which existed in the North Vietnam Region and the Southern China Region, who brought bronze ornament to trade with them. This group of pre-historical people became part of the people of Hariphunchai, approximately 1,000 years later.
The dawn of the cave people – the cave painting; the city of Lamphun has two major geographical characteristics, namely, the low land – alluvial plain in the area of Mueang District, Ban Thi District, Pa Sang District, and Wiang Nong Long District; and the high land on the limestone mountain of Mae Tha District, Thung Hua Change District, and Ban Hong District. The highland was an appropriate region for the habitat of the people during the Stone Age, as they had to live near the cave which served as their habitat and barrier. According to the most recent evidences found in 209 at Doi Tae Hor Mountain of Don Pa Buean Village, Pa Pool Sub-district, Ban Hong District, and at Dao Pa Dang Mountain and Doi Nok Yoong Mountain of Srivichai Subdistrict of Li District, as well as the cave painting in the form of Rock Art’s footprint found at Wat Doi Sarapi Temple of Mae Tha District. These evidences confirm the existence of the people during the Middle Stone Age to the New Stone Age, approximately 1,000 – 4,000 years ago. This group of people worshiped the spirit and drifted from one dwelling from another between the seasons. They worshiped the supernatural being (Animism), they were able to produce stone axe – spear and used them as weapon. And most importantly, the knew how to paint the cave wall using red paint, made with pigeon’s blood, egg white, and glue made from animal pelt; or how to communicate with signs by using their stone axe to engrave on the stone wall. These cave paintings represent their beliefs about footprint worshiping, their burial ceremony, their superstition and practice before hunting. Later they learned how to make and use fire, they changed their consumption behavior from eating raw meat to eating cooked meat. They made and used earthenware, such as, arrow quiver and bone container. They carved the image of twisting snake onto their container. They elected their leader during their drifting era and eventually progressed to the agricultural society, approximately 3,000 years ago.
The Hariphunchai Era
Hariphunchai – The First Civilization of Lanna
Mueang Hariphunchai was the first kingdom of the North, and the first civilization that contributed to every aspect of the prosperity made during Lanna Kingdom Era, whether in term of Buddhism, economy, politics, administration, arts, culture, military, etc. There are many evidences of the town’s influence, such as, the stone inscriptions, the local legends, the ancient remains, antiques, etc. This first civilization of the North is the birth place of the ancient Mon Alphabets, around the 15th – 17th Century of Buddhist Era. Over 10 stone inscriptions were found, all of which represent the ingenuity and prosperity of the town administration and religion. These ancient Mon Alphabets also influenced the characteristics of Phu Kam Alphabets, Satern Alphabets, as well as Burmese Alphabets and Modern Mon Alphabets. The ancient Mon Alphabets were also the origin of Lai Sue Tai, which was created during Sukhothai Era, around 400 years later, as well as Aksorn Tham Lanna Alphabets (Tai Won Alphabets) which was later spread to Aksorn Tai Lue and Tai Yai Alphabets. Hariphunchai was extremely prosperous and well known among the people of the south eastern region, namely, Phu Kam, Nakhon Wat (Cambodia), Jumpa, Sriwichai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Lawo, and China. Hariphunchai became a strategic town that many states visited, in order to extend their relationship, whether in term of the diplomatic, commerce, social welfare, manners and customers, tradition and culture, etc. Therefore, the art and culture of Hariphunchai were a perfect mixture of various arts and cultures. The monarchs of Cham Thewi Royal House ruled over this city continuously, for over 620 years. There were approximately 50 monarchs who ruled over Hariphunchai.
The war between the three kingdoms to the relationship with Pegu Mon
After the town of Hariphunchai was created for around three centuries, Lawo, the original affiliated town of Hariphunchai, during Thawaravadee Era, has fallen to Khmer. As a result, Lawo became an opposing kingdom to Hariphunchai. At that time, kingdoms of the South started expanding their influence from the coastal area to the inner low land, in order to expand their trade routes. There was a massive war between ‘Nakhon Si Thammarat – Lawo – Hariphunchai’. Eventually, during the reign of King Chao Kamonracha, there was an epidemic that killed so many people, the Mon People of Hariphunchai fled to Pegu and Saterm (Suthamwadi) for 6 years. They return to the town after the epidemic had died down. In their return, the Pego Mon People traveled back with them, and the people of Hariphunchai also exchanged the culture of Raming River People with the Salween River People, and brought with them the tradition of Loi Ha Moad during the rainy season, a tradition that became the origin of Loi Krathong Festival of Sukhothai Era, a festival that was passed on to today. Nowadays, the descendants of Pegu Mon people live in Bang Nong Khu and Ban Wiang Gor Glang of Ban Ruen Sub-district, Pa Sang District of Lamphun, and Ban Tonchoke and Ban Nong Khob of San Pa Tong District of Chiang Mai Province, where they still observe and practice the Mon People’s tradition.
King Sawawathisit – The Righteous King
The 16th – 17th Century of Buddhist Era was the time where this kingdom was most prosperous in every aspect. The history of this period was getting clearer. Besides a vast amount of physical historical evidences, there are also so many written evidences, namely, stone inscriptions made in ancient Mon languages from this era were found in Thailand. These evidences appeared during the reign of Phaya Artittayarat, the king of Hariphunchai who found the sacred relics of Buddha and built Phra Borommasari Rikkatart (The Holy Relics) in the middle of the town, which served as the first central of faith in the North. His son, Phrachao Thammamikracha built the sacred image of Phra Attatharod (a standing image of Buddha with the height of 18 Sorks) at Wat Aranyikararm (Wat Phra Yuen). Later, during the reign of Phaya Sawawathisit, who was also known as Phaya Sappasat, a king who ordained as a Buddhist monk while he was crowned as a king, King Sawawathisit dedicated his palace, Chettawanalai Palace, to be rebuilt as Wat Chettawanalai Temple (Wat Don Kaew). King Sawawathisit was ordained with his queen and his son. He planted the great Po tree and invited the people to support the great Po tree. He was the model for the later monarchs to give their palaces to be rebuilt as the Buddhist temples, the tradition for getting ordination while they were crowned, and the tradition of ‘Mai Kum Sali’ of Lanna People.
The Dawn of Buddhism
Before the era of Hariphunchai Kingdom, the local Lua people worshiped the spirit of ‘Pi Tan’, and the spirits of their ancestors known as ‘Pi Poo Sae Ya Sar’. They arranged the worshiping ceremony to Sor Gung Pillar or the Intakil Pillar. Afterward, they received Brahmanism from the hermit. Until the era of Hariphunchai Kingdom, Buddhism established for the first time in the North, and eventually transformed into other Buddhism sects, such as, Lung-ga Wong, Raman Wong, etc. Every Buddhism sect established in Hariphunchai was passed on to other cities, whether Lanna, Lan Chang, or Sip Song Panna. The dawn of Buddhism occurred after the excavation and finding of the sacred relics of Buddha – Phra Kesa Tart (The Hair) at the area that has now became Wat Phratart Hariphunchai, during the reign of Phaya Artittayarat, between 16th – 17th Century Buddhist Era. King Artittayarat built the first Pagoda for the sacred relics of Buddha in the North. It was part of the ancient royal tradition that every monarch must pay his visit to the Phra Mahatart Chedi Hariphunchai before they may ascend to the throne. Other evidences suggest that even Buddhist monks from Tibet traveled to pay their respect to Phra Mahatart Chedi Hariphunchai. These incidents were evidences that Lamphun was the center of Buddhism in the Ping – Wang – Yom – Nan River Basin, as well as Mekong – Salween River Basin. Unto this day, Lamphun becomes the center of Buddhist civilization of Lanna Kingdom, as there are many religious places of Buddhism in the provinces, such as, Wat Phratart Hariphunchai, Wat Phraputtabat Tak Pa in Pa Sang District, and Wat Phraputtabat Huai Tom in Li District, etc. The pagoda in Wat Phratart Hariphunchai is the oldest Buddhism pagoda, whereas King Rama IV praised this pagoda as one of the eight most renowned pagodas in Thailand. Wat Phratart Hariphunchai is also known as the temple for those who born in The Year of the Cock as well.
Cham Thewi: The Cherished Queen
After the fall of Samantarapratet, as a result of the lack of a righteous ruler, a group of hermits who helped build the town from the very beginning built the new town in 661 and named this town ‘Hariphunchai Nakhon’. They invited a princess of the King of Lawo Kingdom, ‘Phra Narng Cham Thewi’, to become the first monarch of this new city. Queen Cham Thewi brought with her the more advance civilization of Thawaravadee to the area on Ping River in the North of Thailand for the very first time. The Queen gathered local tribes together under her rule, which was governed by the principle of ‘Todsapit Ratchatham’ (The 10 Rules for the Righteous Ruler). Phra Narng Cham Thewi spread Buddhism in this land by building many temples in this region, and expanded her kingdom and civilization to various other basin areas, such as, Mueang Kaylarng Nakhon – Alumpang (Lampang) of Wang River Basin, Wiang Thor, Wiang Tha Karn, Wiang Mano, and Wiang Hot. At the end of her life, Phra Narng Chamthewi renounced the throne to her twin sons, ‘Chao Mahantayod and Chao Anantayod’, who became the next rulers of Hariphunchai - Kaylarng Nakhon, as the queen now turned to practicing Dharma. Phra Narnge Cham Thewi performed so many – uncountable amount of merits, as she is now known as ‘Phra Mae Mueang – Phra Ming Mueang’ (The Cherished Queen) by the people of Hariphunchai.
As the sun always go down to the West, the dawn and the days of the city of Hariphunchai had eventually set. After a long prosperity of over six centuries, and a renowned fame of being a prosper and wealthy city, the town became a target of King Mengrai, the ruler of ‘Hiran Nakhon Ngern Yang’, an ancient city once existed in the area of Chiang Rai Province. In 1281, King Mengrai led a great army to burn the city of Hariphunchai to the ground, during the reign of Phraya Yiba. However, King Mengrai did not stay at Hariphunchai, as he remarked that it was a city of sacred relic, and the city itself was too small, where future expansion would be difficult. King Mengrai assigned Ai Fah or Khun Fah to govern the city of Hariphunchai, and relocated the capital to ‘Wiang Chawae’ or ‘Wiang Jae Jiang Kum’, before relocating to ‘Wiang Kum Kam’ and ‘Nopburi Nakhonping Chiang Mai’ in 1296, by annexing Hariphunchai and Yonok together, with Chiang Mai at the center. Hariphunchai served as the religious center, whereas King Mengrai ordered the restoration of Phratart Hariphunchai and the reconstruction a palace-shaped Mondop built by Phaya Sappasat into a structure of 32 Sorks tall. King Mengrai also gave some of his servants to Wat Phratart Hariphunchai, and ordered all the later kings of Chiang Mai to be responsible for maintaining Wat Phratart Hariphunchai.
In 1447, during the reign of Phaya Tilokkarat of Chiang Mai, the 9th king of Mung Rai Royal House, Phaya Tilokkarat invited Phra Maha Maythangkorn as a supervisor for the restoration and reconstruction of Phratart Hariphunchai, by changing the shape of the pagoda from the palace-shaped into the bell-shape or Lang-ga-shaped, as per the Buddhism arts of Lang-ga Wong Sect of Chiang Mai. The pagoda was reconstructed into a 32 Sorks height Pagoda, with the width of 53 Sorks, as we see today. In 1511, during the reign of Phra Mueang Kaew of Chiang Mai, the 11th king of Mung Rai Royal House, Phra Mueang Kaew arranged the Buddhism meritmaking ceremony at Wat Phratart Hariphunchai every year. For these ceremonies, he invited the people to donate money for buying the copper, which was used for coating the pagoda. They gathered a total of nineteen hundred thousands, eighty-five thousand and four hundred Baht and two Salueang of copper plate. The pagoda was then covered with lacquered and gold leaf. Phra Mueang Kaew also constructed the royal temple hall, the pagoda’s fence (Sattabunchorn), the 500-spears cloister, as well as relocated the wall of Hariphunchai in 1516 for the purpose of protecting against Ayutthaya Kingdom.
Until the reign of Phaya Gue Na, the 6th king of Lanna Kingdom, Phaya Gue Na invited Phra Sumon Thera from Sukhothai to stay at the Buddhist Lent at Wat Phra Yuen in 1369, until the construction of Wat Buppararm (Wat Suan Dork) was complete, Phta Sumon Thera then moved to stay at this new temple until he passed away in 1389. Phra Sumon Thera, therefore, laid down the foundation of Lung-ga Wong Buddhism in Chiang Mai, a substitute for the old Buddhism sect (Ramon Wong) that was once had Hariphunchai as the center. Later, during the reign of Phaya San Mueang Mar, around 1408, Phaya San Mueang Mar pursued various religious missions for Buddhism, including coating the pagoda of Phratart Hariphunchai with two hundred and ten thousand Baht of gold, or 252 kilograms.
The Early days of Rattanakosin Era
The foreign policies used between Lanna Kingdom (Chiang Mai) and Siam were quite competitive. The monarchs of the northern kingdom tried their best to maintain the sovereignty of Lanna Kingdom. However, they could not resists the pressure of Siam, as Siam employed many schemes to annex Lanna Kingdom into Siam, including, sending western lawyers and missionaries into Chiang Mai, as well as sending the governors to govern the three provinces in the upcountry.
After the central government of Siam signed the Bowring Treaty with United Kingdom in 1852 (during the reign of King Rama IV), British companies could only acquire the forest concession in Lanna only when they submitted their requires directly to the monarch of Lanna. This caused so many disputes between the monarch of Nakhon Chiang Mai and the foreign companies. The central government saw that engaging in forestry business with the western people brought so much revenue to the country, therefore, entered into 2 treaties regarding Nakhon Chiang Mai, in 1873 and 1883. The content of these treaties focused on reducing the role of the ruler of Chiang Mai in forest concession and sending authority from the central government to govern Chiang Mai, and the creation of the Department of Forestry in 1894. This was an important event that led to the reformation of the region administration, where the authority was placed under the central government’s administration while the role and duty of the ruler of the Northern cities were reduced. The status of these vassal states was reduced to become an administration unit of ‘precinct’, which was governed by the government officer sent from the central government. Until Chai Dara Direk Rattanapairoaj, the 7th ruler of Nakhon Lamphun has passed away. A conflict has erupted as his descendents competed for the power of the ruler. The central government used this opportunity as an excuse to completely reform the administration of Lamphun.
“The Era of Gep Pak Sai Sah Gep Kha Sai Muaeng” (gathering the resource into the silo – gathering the people into the town) After Burmese army was driven out of Lanna, Phaya Cha Ban was appointed as the new governor of Chiang Mai while Phaya Vikala was appointed as the governor of Lampang. The appointment ceremony was held at Wat Phratart Hariphunchai. Chiang Mai was governing itself as a vassal state of Siam Kingdom. However, the threat of Burma never actually went away, as they frequently invade Chiang Mai on many occasions. Phaya Cha Ban, who had too few people under him, couldn’t possibly withstand Burma’s invasion, decided to leave their town and settle down with Chao Jetton at Lampang. Once Phaya Cha Ban passed away, the King of Krung Thonburi appointed Phaya Vikala as the new ruler of Chiang Mai in 1782. Back then, Chiang Mai was a ghost town under the influence of Burma’s invasion. Restoration of Chiang Mai was, therefore, a difficult task. Phaya Vikala first had to gather more people, where he gathered the people of Lampang, along with his original subordinates, and used the area known as Wiang Pa Sang, as their stronghold, which was known as “Gep Hom Tom Prai”. Phaya Vikala spent 14 years gathering the people until they were strong enough to return to, and restore, Chiang Mai in 1845.They also restored the city of Lamphun and appointed Phaya Burirat Khamfan as the new ruler of Lamphun, with the title of ‘Phaya Lamphunchai’, along with Chao Boon Ma, the youngest brother of Chao Jetton, as the viceroy. They gathered 500 people from Lampang, 1,000 people from Chiang Mai, and 10,000 Yong people, and settled down in Lamphun, on the bank of a river on the opposite site of Phratart Hariphunchai. The descendants of Yong People became highly skilled weavers and craftsmen, who played an important role in restoration of Lamphun’s Lanna culture.
Besides Yong People, another group of people that has been gathered and relocated to this area while Phaya Vikala was building his stronghold in Wiang Pa Sang was the people who lived on the western towns of Kong River, such as, Ban Satoi Soi Rai, Ban Wang Lung, Ban Wang Gard, etc. These people were possibly the descendents of Lua - Meng People. Other group of people that has been gathered and relocated to this new town was Tai Yai People from Mueang Pu, Mueang Pan, Mueang Sart, Mueang Nai, Mueang Kward, Muang Nae, etc. There were also Tai Kern People from Mueang Chiang Thung who emigrated to this new town, as they fled from the war, namely, Tai Lue People of Ban Ti District and Luay People from Ban On Luay. This era is named by the historian as “The Era of Gep Pak Sai Sah Gep Kha Sai Muaeng” (gathering the resource into the silo – gathering the people into the town). Immigration continued unto the end of the Greater East Asia War. The immigration of Yong People and Lue People finally stopped after the concrete border between Thailand – China – Burma was settled. Nowadays, Mueang Yong is under the administration of Myanmar.
The slogan of Lamphun Province
“Phra Thad temple of renown, holy Buddhist relic, famous lamyai, quality garlic, beautiful traditions…Hariphunchai, land of Chamadevi”
The Province’s Seal
The pagoda showed in this seal represents Phratart Hariphunchai Pagoda, which is believed to hold the sacred relics of Buddha. Phratart Hariphunchai is an important sacred place which is highly worshiped among the people of Lamphun Province and other provinces in the vicinity.
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