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.
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
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.
publications exist relating to the poem but only two important ones are
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
Dr. Prasert’s opinion of the date.
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.
account of the life of The Venerable Prince Bun Prasoet na Chiang Mai
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
The Mang-rai Dynasty (1296 to 1558), which was artistically powerful
during the reign
of King Tilokarat (1443 to
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.
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.”
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".
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.
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):
© 2001 Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer. All rights reserved.