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What is Lanna?

The Lan Na Kingdom, located in Northern Thailand, existed from the 13th to 18th century, and its culture still thrives today.

The Lan Na or Lanna Kingdom was an Indianized state in the area that is now Northern Thailand between the 13th and 18th centuries. It also covered some parts of current Laos, Myanmar, and China.

Chiang Mai, built in 1296, was the capital city of the Lanna Kingdom. In the 16th century, the Burmese conquered the Lanna kingdom. Later, in 1774, with the help of Siam (today called Thailand), the Burmese were beaten and driven out, and in 1892, the Lanna Kingdom became a definite part of Siam. In 1932, the Chiang Mai area became a province of Siam. In 1949, Siam officially became known as Thailand.

Lanna Culture Today

Although the Lanna Kingdom suffered various invasions and annexations by foreign conquerors, the Lanna culture is still alive today. You’ll find a variety of influences from Sri Lanka Theravada Buddhism, Mon and Khmer culture, Animism and Hindu religions, the Burmese culture, Chinese culture, and certainly also influences from its Thai neighbour — the Sukhothai Kingdom, and later the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Today, the Lanna region is part of the Kingdom of Thailand. Still, the former Lanna cities, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, and others, are sought-after tourist destinations because of the beauty and splendour of the Lanna culture, architecture, and arts.

Lanna Folk Healing

Thai Lanna healing arts, including Lanna Thai massage, are well-known for their herbal tradition and heritage and their healing through various massage and bodywork forms.

You’ll still find so-called Mor Meuang or local Town Doctors and Healers in the local villages and towns. The local medicine of the Lanna region is recorded in texts and teachings in the Lanna language and, as said, still much alive and in continuous development, notably because of modern developments and influences, like the Thai Massage revival and Thai Medicine revival projects, but also because of influences through healing disciplines from the West.

Another common way to look at the Lanna Healing Arts is as being so-called Hill Tribe Medicine, where “hill tribe” is a common name for the many different ethnic and cultural groups in Northern Thailand, peoples coming originally from a broad range of regions and countries in Asia, such as Myanmar, Tibet, Nepal, Laos, and China.

One of the essential characteristics that distinguishes Lanna Thai healing and culture from mainstream Thai Medicine and Thai culture is that the Lanna people and healing practitioners are more involved with the ancient belief in animism and, foremost, the idea that spirit, mind, energies, or spirits reside in all things. These beliefs are seen clearly in the Lanna Folk Healing Arts treatments, where the healing practitioner’s ceremonies and spiritual ripeness play an important role.

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