Thai Heritage Preservation Day was marked in a colorful
ceremony earlier this month with the opening of the Wiang Thakan city gates,
the ancient city in San Patong district about 30 kilometers south of Chiang
Bodhi Tree, brought in at the instigation of King Mengrai (B.E.1804-1854),
is still alive in Wiang Thakan.
Wiang Thakan villagers and Ban Klang community residents
took part in the festivities at the city’s historical park that is over
1,000 years old.
The starting day for the ceremony was chosen to coincide
with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s birthday.
join in the parade, beating drums, cymbals and gongs.
The ceremony began with worshipping ancestors and Wiang
Thakan city founders. It was held at the city’s corner-gates: Ngiew Gate,
Pu Hoi Gate, Hua Wiang Gate and East Gate. It included a colorful and
stunning Tung parade of long-tailed and colorful flags in Lanna kingdom
tall sticks with fans the men carry represent this parade, with the silver
and golden fans believed to bring gold, silver and riches to the villagers.
The atmosphere of the ceremony reflected the unity of the
Wiang Thakan villagers.
Wiang Thakan was founded in the Lanna era. It can be
reached by travelling from Chiang Mai City and going along the Chiang
Mai-Hod Road, then turning left at the Tungsiew intersection and continuing
through Ban Tongok village about two kilometers further.
Chedis are scattered around the Wiang Thakan ancient site.
The village name, Thakan, comes from the word taka (crow,
in northern dialect). Legend has it that an albino crow was about to land in
the village. The villagers noticed it and became afraid that its landing
could be a bad omen and bring troubles to them.
Thus, they chased it away.
Finally, the villagers became associated with the word
Taka, and it became the name of the village, Ban Taka (the word “ban”
the parade dressed in their best traditional Thai clothing.
However, in 1997, the abbot of Thakan temple saw that the
word Taka was not in the written language and modified it into Ban Thakan.
The name Wiang Thakan first appeared during the reign of
King Mengrai (B.E.1804-1854) as “Wiang Pantanakarn” (The Confined City).
The Bodhi Tree was brought in from Ceylon at the instigation of King Mengrai
who decided to have it planted in Wiang Pantanakarn. It is still alive
ancient remains and objects can still be found in the area.
There are three great historical cities in the Upper
North - Chiang Saen in Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai’s Wiang Kum Kam and
Wiang Thakan. However, the historical remains at Wiang Thakan are the most
explicit, joined in a cluster. The city is also one of two ancient cities in
Thailand where the octagonal Chedi Luang (Grand Pagoda) or Gu Luang,
constructed in Suwanjanggoth style, can still be seen. The other is at the
Charma Dhevi temple in Lamphun province.
critters are the “kaling - kala”, animals in the legend of the local
people - who believe that they would bring luck and fortune to the
Wiang Thakan was reconstructed in 1985 with the
inspection of Ajarn Surapol Damrikul, head of the department of 4th fine
arts unit in Chiang Mai. Its villagers were granted the shield of honor from
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 1988.
parade featured drums, gongs, and Tung flags, and was followed by people
carrying stripped down sticks that they believe would to bring morals and
cheers to them. This parade was traditionally held to bring good luck and
victory during war.
Tiamtan Panya, chairman of Ban Klang Tambon
Administration Organization and Suwit Arthit, its secretary and a committee
member of Wiang Thakan Community Service, said that the reconstruction,
renovation and the development of Wiang Thakan have not been supported by
the authorities as much as should have been the case.
elders participated in the ceremonies.
At a seminar in February, academics and archaeologists
agreed that Wiang Thakan is a historical city that still is fully alive,
thanks to the efforts of its villagers to preserve it. Therefore, it was
appropriate to promote Wiang Thakan as a tourist stop and have its name
included on the Chiang Mai south sightseeing map.
women dressed up in red and carried offerings, called locally “mak plu and
mak beng”- which means paying respects to the sacred spirits at the Wiang
Thakan ancient remains.
Wiang Thakan still requires restoration. But budget
constraints have prevented this, so it is not promoted effectively and
Even this month’s ceremony had to be financed with a
paltry 21,000 baht from the TAO budget and community donations.
TAO administration members and a committee set up by the
community had tried contacting Chiang Mai Recreation and Sports Center,
which is directly responsible for tourism. However, it claimed to be newly
established and subsequently did not have personnel to assist.
Therefore, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has been asked to directly
acknowledge the problem of Wiang Thakan and allocate a budget for it
comparable to Wiang Kum Kam’s budgetary allocation.