Explore the Lanna Folklife Museum: The Culture of Northern Thailand

Explore the Lanna Folklife Museum – The Culture of Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand stands out as an exquisite region, featuring magnificent mountains, misty forests, ancient ruins and hill tribe villages that create an entirely unique experience from other areas in Thailand. Once known as Lanna Kingdom–an association of Thai principalities that now comprises Akha, Karen, Lisu and Hmong tribes–this region makes up an exceptional backdrop.

Northern culture stands out for many distinctive elements, one being its cuisine which draws upon influences from China, Laos and Myanmar.

1. History

The Lanna Folklife Museum showcases northern Thailand through exhibits that highlight various traditions and artifacts of northern Thailand. Housed within Chiang Mai’s old municipal court building, its exhibits show how its history has shaped both culture and heritage of this pristine heritage center – make sure not to miss it when visiting Chiang Mai!

The museum features 18 rooms that showcase various aspects of culture. You’ll notice Buddhism’s influence throughout, such as one room dedicated to an architectural plan for a Wiharn Lanna (Buddhist ceremony hall) while others showcase decorations items and offerings related to Buddhism.

Visit the museum and admire Lanna-style Buddha images in a separate room, as well as local people’s tools and appliances displayed throughout different rooms of the center. Additionally, elephant ivory combs and accessories can also be seen here!

An impressive aspect of the center is how it displays the way of life of hill tribes through various dioramas, showing their communities’ everyday activities such as harvesting their crops, fishing for food and weaving and embroidering clothing. Furthermore, symbols found within monasteries are explained here as well.

If you’re curious to learn more about the hill tribes of northern Thailand, join a guided tour to Lahu Village. These excursions provide firsthand knowledge of how these communities live while also showing how these hills have had an influence over Thai culture.

2. Culture

The Lanna Folklife Museum provides an invaluable wealth of knowledge about northern Thailand’s hill tribe culture and lifestyle. Housed in an old municipal court building on Phrapokklao Road – directly across from the Three King Monument located in the centre of Old City – this treasure trove can provide visitors with a comprehensive overview.

The Museum offers exhibits on traditional farming tools and methods, as well as detailed explanations of Lanna-style monasteries’ complex symbols. Anyone curious about northern Thailand history is well advised to pay it a visit; mountain ranges create its unique identity while shielding residents from rapid western influences; this allows them to retain their language (“Muang”), cuisine, traditions (including religion – most often animism) and cuisine unique to this region.

As Southeast Asia was engaged in its battle against communism in the late 1950s, anthropologists from North and Western institutions began studying tribal villages. Many American and Australian anthropologists conducted these researches – creating a relationship that still stands today between North America and Westerners.

Northern Thailand offers many activities that provide an immersive experience in the culture and traditions of local hill tribes, such as trips to their villages. Lisu Lodge provides such experiences in remote mountain settings.

Khmu and Hmong hill tribes welcome visitors into their communities, but visitors should be wary that some have been set up specifically as tourist spots, with an entrance fee required to enter. Many villages also feature people eager to sell you souvenirs; should this not interest you, simply say no politely or give an appropriate response like shaking of the head.

3. Art

This cultural center is an absolute treasure trove for history buffs and those interested in the culture of northern Thailand. It showcases Lanna and hilltribe art as well as traditional lifestyles as well as intricate symbols used in Lanna monasteries.

This museum’s exhibits are organized into separate rooms, each one dedicated to a different topic or exhibit. For example, one room highlights tools and appliances of Lanna folk while another displays traditional fabrics. Another exhibit showcases elephant ivory products ranging from combs and religious images made out of this precious substance to religious images made out of it. Another explains the significance of Northern Thai script which resembles Lao and Khun languages spoken across Northern Thailand.

Not only can this center offer art exhibitions, but there are also performances here that are sure to delight those interested in cultural experiences. Perhaps the most well-known is classical khon dance – an Indian-influenced performance with skilled acrobatic moves that has become an invaluable national treasure – where audiences can expect both poetic narrations and atmospheric music during performances.

At this center, other performances include combat fighting and dance and drumming shows that will get your adrenaline going. If you want to gain further insight into Northern Tai culture, join a tour or visit Lahu village, which boasts traditional houses surrounded by lush forests with free roaming chickens and pigs – many villagers follow both Buddhist as well as some animist beliefs.

4. Music

Northern Thailand is home to an eclectic blend of cultural influences that create its rich fabric. Bordering Myanmar and Laos, and with many hill tribes speaking their own dialects – its blend of cultures make this region one of the most authentic spots in Thailand to visit.

The Lanna Folklife Museum in Chiang Mai’s old municipal court building is an entertaining destination, featuring 18 dioramas depicting daily life in Lanna Kingdom.

There was also an impressive display of traditional instruments, including the khim and ruang – two bamboo instruments featuring hollow chambers with two resonators each and bell-shaped bowls equipped with four resonators each – played using fingering techniques similar to those found on lutes or guitars.

The museum hosts an exhibit about Lisu people, an ethnic group believed to have come from Siam. Photos and field notes taken by anthropologist Otome during her visits to Doi Lan village near Doi Lan in the 1980s can be seen. Her collection now resides with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre in Bangkok.

Luk thung music hails from Thailand’s Northeast. Pioneered by Pongsri Woranut and Suraphol Sombatcharoen in the late 1990s, luk thung was quickly adopted by new generations of Thais by late 2000. Since then, Pumpuang Duangjan and other artists have popularized an electrified form that incorporates different musical genres within this genre.

Mor lam is another widely popular musical style in Thailand, inspired by luk thung but with an added bluesy edge. This type of music can often be heard playing as background noise at weddings and other festivities, while Kantrum music from Cambodia is typically performed quickly as dance music.

5. Cuisine

Northern Thailand’s cuisine and traditions are just as fascinating as its temples and natural beauty. Their cuisine draws upon influences from Burma and Laos which give northern Thai food its distinct character that sets it apart from those found elsewhere in Thailand.

gaeng khanun () is an iconic dish in northern Thailand and should be sampled during any visit to its region. Not only is this delectable treat delicious but its symbolic meaning means that this meal often appears at special events such as weddings or new year celebrations – making gaeng khanun even more special!

Other highlights of Thai cuisine include sai oua, a grilled sausage made with minced pork seasoned with chillies, garlic, lemongrass and galangal spices. Khanom jeen nam ngiao offers another tempting dish: it features tomatoes with chilli paste as well as cubes of pork in its spicy noodle soup base.

An additional treat worth trying is known as Nam Prik Num. This simple relish of roasted young green chillies provides an extra zesty kick that goes great with most dishes.

Chiang Mai offers visitors a unique glimpse into Northern Thai culture through the Lanna Folklife Museum, with 18 rooms dedicated to displays related to Lanna Kingdom which ruled parts of northern Thailand from 1292 until 1775. Open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily and for more information visit their website or join one of our popular Northern Adventures that begins here!