Archive for the ‘Tai’ Category

Brief Introduction to Tai Kingdoms

August 14, 2008
Sukhothai ruins

Sukhothai ruins

The Tai people were moving southwards into Laos and Thailand from northwest China, probably being squeezed out by the Chinese Han people. They had mastered upland rice agriculture so they started to settle in the northern hill country of both these lands. This was a fairly recent migration and we don’t really pick up their story much until the 11th. Century and the Sukhothai Kingdom.

By the 12th. Century we see the movement of Tais further south and the founding of what would be the Thai kingdom’s capital of Ayutthaya. The ethnic groups which would have been there originally were Mons and Khmers but we can suspect there was quite heavy Tai integration with these peoples.

Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767 and the capital of Siam moved south, first to Thonburi and later to Bangkok. The southern movement of the Tais into the central plains of Thailand was probably supported by their ability to farm rice in these lowlands. Irrigation and drainage became the tools of the Tais as they bought more land into cultivation and this can be seen at Ayutthaya and even more so in the Bangkok area.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

March 13, 2008

The King of Thailand chose Suvarnabhumi as the name of the new Bangkok airport to the east of the city.  This was an interesting choice. Suvarnabhumi or sometimes Suwannaphum refers to an ancient land, literally “Golden Land” or “Land of Gold”, mentioned in some ancient Indian chronicles.

Whether it was in Southern India or some part of SE Asia is open to question, but there is a possibility it was centered in what is now the Thai Cambodian border region. Where ever it was it must have pre dated the migration of the Tai peoples south into what is now Thailand and the rise of the Mon and Khmer kingdoms.

The Tai People

March 11, 2008

The majority ethnic group in Thailand is the Tai. This group includes many sub-groups and also is the majority in Laos.

I had thought that they were a tribal people coming down from the Tibet region via Yunnan in the north and pushing into what is now Thailand, the Burmese Shan States, Laos and even parts of India. New studies seem to be pointing towards an original migration from the island of Taiwan to the Chinese mainland and then to Yunnan.

 I think I will organize this blog by adding pages for ethnic group as I have time.