Buddha footprint

The world of the Buddha footprint
by Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer

The researcher
Research methodology
Selected texts of the researcher
Publications available
Exhibitions held
The Buddha footprint in various coutries
The Buddha footprint in history
Contact Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer



Buddha Pada Vandana
- extracted text

(To obtain details of the full publication, please contact the author.)

Praise To Buddha's Footprints!
A Sukhothai Khom script Pali poem of early Sukhothai (B.E. 1923, A.D. 1380)

It was a delight to extract an old file from my archives ‘Pali Buddha Footprint Poems’, especially when this article will be a birthday gift to celebrate Dr. Prasert na Nagara’s 80th birthday. Contained in this file was a prize poem that I briefly discussed with Dr. Prasert na Nagara many years ago. It seems that each I read and studied it I gained more knowledge of this very rare, in fact, unique, Sukhothai-Pali poem. 

I first became interested in this Sukhothai-Pali poem when the Thai Court Historian, Mom Rachawong Major General Supavat Kasemsri, a walking encyclopaedia of chronicle knowledge, gave me a copy of a Thai-Pali poem and some other related data that was printed in the year RS 128. As time passed I realized it was the only Sukhothai-Pali poem in existence and was likely entitled Buddha Pada Vandana or Obeisance to Buddha’s Footprints!. For this rare publication I give my special thanks go to Mom Rachawong Supavat Kasemsri. 

The great (and only) Sukhothai history team, consisting of the late Dr. A.B. Griswold and Dr. Prasert na Nagara, also extensively wrote on the rare Sukhothai-Pali. Their work, which includes Buddha Pada Vandana, is published and easy to obtain. 

Other publications exist relating to the poem but only two important ones are mentioned here. 

Rather than repeating the content of Dr. Griswold and Dr. Prasert na Nagara’s work, I prefer like to emphasize three items that relate to the Buddha Pada Vandana. They are briefly listed as:

1.) Dr. Prasert’s opinion of the date.

2.) The Sukhothai Buddha Pada Vandana has a sequence known as kalyana (beauty).

3.) A specific reference to the term kukkuta in the Sukhothai Khom script Pali poem .

Topic 3.) is expanded extensively in related sketches.

According to Burmese sources a poem entitled Buddha Pada Vandana is dated to the Pinya Dynasty, a Tai (Shan) kingdom located some four miles south of Ava, Myanmar. This poem is attributed to a brilliant minister of the era whose name is Caturangabala. He wrote during the reign of King Sihasura, who commenced construction of the royal capital of Pinya, or, as he noted in Pali, Vijayapura, in B.E. 1856, A.D. 1313.

Historical account of the life of The Venerable Prince Bun Prasoet na Chiang Mai Thavaro-bhikkhu
(To obtain details of the full publication, please contact the author.)

This text is an attempt to inform those interested in the Buddhist art of Thailand and in particular the Lan Na period, of the life and work of The Late Venerable Prince Bun Prasoet na Chiang Mai Thavaro-bhikkhu.

The Venerable was the third son of Major General Chao (Prince) Rachaphatikawong and Chao Mae (Princess) Chansom. He was born in the village of Buak Khrok Luang, Nong Pa Khrueng, Chiang Mai, on October 31, 1925  (2468 in the Thai Buddhist era). The six children in the family were males.

He graduated from the Prince Royal College, Chiang Mai, and The Agricultural School, now known as the Mae Jo University, Mae Jo, Chiang Mai. He served in the Thai military at the Kavila Military Camp, Chiang Mai, and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1945, at the full age of 20, at Wat Buak Khruk Luang, Chiang Mai. As a monk he performed the various duties and tasks required of his vocation. In addition, he created Lan Na Buddhist art designs.

On the occasion of his second ordination, The Venerable was bestowed with the name of Thavaro-bhikkhu by the late Lord Abbot, Phrakru Sri Paribatynurat (1913 to 1988) of Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai. 

The name Thavaro means everlasting, enduring, firm and stable. Bhikkhu is the Pali term for monk. In most instances drawings executed by the Master are signed as Kavilobhikkhu. This is probably due to his first ordination by the Lord Abbot Wat Buak Khrok Luang, who named him Kavila (Pali: kavila). The meaning of this Pali name or possibly term Kavila is not known to me. Phaya Kavila (1782 to 1813) was the first ruler of Chiang Mai after the departure of the Burmese in 1774. Possibly a monk or a family member provided this name to the Lord Abbot in remembrance of Phaya Kavila. 

At the time of his birth the court of Chiang Mai was still active. His parents both held high royal ranks in the court. His grandfather, a learned prince, was related to the court of Chiang Tung, Upper Shan State, Union of Myanmar, transliterated and known as Kengtung in Myanmar. 

His grandfather, Chao Suriya-wong (1872 - 1935), was the Head of the Ten Crafts of the ha-kham  (ha, building; kham, gold: I.e. palace) of Chiang Mai. The Venerable, having spent his boyhood days with his grandfather, became fully informed upon the two traditions of the courts of Chiang Mai and the Kuen of Chiang Tung. Between these two courts lay the core of Lan Na. Populations with ethnic links to the Lan Na are found to the south at Inle Lake, Myanmar and to the north as far as Chiang Rung, Sip-song Pan Na, China. Previously, many city-states existed in this massive area and many languages (dialects) were spoken. The art and traditions of these populations are closely related. Also, they are closely related to the court arts of Mandalay and the previously existing royal centers, and were strongly influenced by Chinese art. 

Daily, The Venerable was surrounded by the visual world of the first and third periods of culture that existed in Chiang Mai. The second, Burmese period, had little artistic impact upon Chiang Mai. The three cultural periods were:

1.) The Mang-rai Dynasty (1296 to 1558), which was artistically powerful during the reign of King Tilokarat  (1443 to 1487).

2.) The Burmese administrators of Chiang Mai (1558 to 1774). Artistically this period had little impact on Chiang Mai. Burmese arts seen today were added at the turn of this century. The Chiang Mai throne was vacated from 1774 to 1782.

3.) The Chiang Mai Court (1782 to 1939). This period was heavily influenced by the Kuen of Chiang Teung and Maung Yong of the present Upper Shan State of Burma and the Leu people of Sip-song Pan Na, Yunnan, China. 

According to the Chiang Mai tradition a design is known as lai-muang. Lai is the design and muang, a city, state, country or northern; in actuality it mainly refers to the city-state of Royal Chiang Mai. A person creating lai-muang that is a professional sa-la master was known as lai-muang. This profession encompassed a wide range of skills. A sa-la, a revered and honourable rank, is an architect to the court and monastic buildings who has mastered design and the related arts and crafts. 

For many years The Venerable worked as a sa-la. Unfortunately, today there is no living prince who is both a monk and a sa-la. Neither is there a living sa-la who approaches the genius of The Venerable. My friend, Mr. Vithi Pannitchapan, head of the Department of Lan Na Arts, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, said to me, “He was the last breath of Lan Na’s princely sa-las.” 

This memorial text includes a selection of his finest examples of design work, as it mainly appears on door panels and windows in numerous monastic structures. In excess of one hundred meters (three hundred feet) of his original work was traced onto special film one hundred thirty centimeters wide. Some selected pieces were reduced and included in this text. Regrettably, only a very small number of his works can be presented within the chapter "Lan Na Line Drawings of The Venerable". Of those that I have, possible two percent are represented. Regrettably the scope of his lifetimes work is not known. Cultural change took place and his work was not considered valuable at the time. 

Over a three-year period The Venerable taught me almost everything I know of Lan Na Buddhist Art designs and architectural terms to his work. The 20 articles listed are just a preliminary introduction to his work. Often I left with him from 20 - 50 black and white photos that were 8 X 10 inches and he wrote detailed notes on all of them. In this text this information is in the chapter entitled "Notations on Some Lan Na Designs and Architectural Terms explained by The Venerable".

The term Lan Na covered present upper northern Thailand, western parts of present Laos, the southern area of Yunnan, China, and the northeastern area of present Myanmar. Lan itself means 1,000,000 and Na means field; the country of 1,000,000 (rice) fields. At that time there was a second 'country' named Lan Chang. Chang means elephant. It is the area that is presently known as Laos. 

This text forms an introduction to the magnificence of Lan Na’s late and last monk-prince Sa-la.He will be sorely missed. A segment of history closed with him, and, unfortunately or fortunately, he is the Vincent Van Gogh of Lan Na.

Four line drawings (please click on for bigger size and descriptions):

Lai hong - swan
Lai Hong - Swan
Maitriya - the future Buddha
Maitriya - The future Buddha


© 2001 Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer. All rights reserved.