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BANGKOK 22 January 2019 05:45

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CMHomeboy78

Chiang Mai Farangs - In Perspective

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Thanks for the detailed reply.

But I'm still not convinced that Grandjean was talking about the Kampang Din.

The Finlayson Map is visual evidence, of a sort, and reinforced by the added note "before the inner wall was removed."

Your evident bias against missionaries has possibly led you to underestimate Grandjean as a reliable witness.

You've probably read Carl Bock's Temples and Elephants. Did a more obnoxious farang ever set foot in Lanna Thai? His tactlessness was almost comical. Not to mention the fact that he plundered and desecrated religious sites as well. Yet his writings and observations are generally accepted as factual.

Maybe it's a good idea to put aside our prejudices when evaluating historical information.

As observers many missionaries did report an accurate account of things at least through their eyes. They did try to at least view first hand. Personally I have little respect for their in my view cultural genocide but as reporters they are often true.

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'But how can the map be explained? In my opinion - and not to labor the point - the Finlayson Map is a symbolic representation of Chiang Mai as a celestial city with the royal residence as Mt. Meru at the center'.

I second that.

Thank you for a fascinating contribution.

And all the best to you and your projects.

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Thanks for the detailed reply.

But I'm still not convinced that Grandjean was talking about the Kampang Din.

The Finlayson Map is visual evidence, of a sort, and reinforced by the added note "before the inner wall was removed."

Your evident bias against missionaries has possibly led you to underestimate Grandjean as a reliable witness.

You've probably read Carl Bock's Temples and Elephants. Did a more obnoxious farang ever set foot in Lanna Thai? His tactlessness was almost comical. Not to mention the fact that he plundered and desecrated religious sites as well. Yet his writings and observations are generally accepted as factual.

Maybe it's a good idea to put aside our prejudices when evaluating historical information.

As observers many missionaries did report an accurate account of things at least through their eyes. They did try to at least view first hand. Personally I have little respect for their in my view cultural genocide but as reporters they are often true.

I would agree with that as well. Missionaries have left some of the most valuable and accurate accounts of life in 19th century Chiang Mai. McGilvary's book, A Half Century Among the Siamese and the Lao is a good example.

The Payap University archives have letters, photos, and other material from missionary families in Chiang Mai that I would very much like to have access to. I'm working on that.

Thanks for your input.

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Thanks for the detailed reply.

But I'm still not convinced that Grandjean was talking about the Kampang Din.

The Finlayson Map is visual evidence, of a sort, and reinforced by the added note "before the inner wall was removed."

Your evident bias against missionaries has possibly led you to underestimate Grandjean as a reliable witness.

You've probably read Carl Bock's Temples and Elephants. Did a more obnoxious farang ever set foot in Lanna Thai? His tactlessness was almost comical. Not to mention the fact that he plundered and desecrated religious sites as well. Yet his writings and observations are generally accepted as factual.

Maybe it's a good idea to put aside our prejudices when evaluating historical information.

I'm not going to argue the point at length.

I just outlined what I thought was a plausible explanation for Grandjean's reference to a "double girdle of walls" in saying that it was possibly the Kampang Din that he was referring to. I have no vested interest in promoting this view.

Another thing that makes me doubt that the Chiang Mai fortifications ever included double walls and moats is the fact that no trace of an outer [or inner] wall has ever been found. Surely if one had existed - even one going back to the time of King Mengrai - some remains, above or below ground would exist.

As far as I know, it is only the Finlayson Map and the word of Grandjean that say so. Even taken together they don't amount to a compelling case for the existence of double walls and moats defending Chiang Mai.

I am also not going on the defensive against a charge of "bias against missionaries." The fact that many, if not most of them are brainless bigots is self-evident. There have always been exceptions, I'm sure we can agree.

I'm not anti-Christian in any way.

Although I have a profound respect for, and interest in Buddhism, I've been a Catholic since a few days after I came into this world, and that's the way I'll go out.

Amen Bro.

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Chiang Mai Farangs - In Perspective.

The Schomburgk Mission to Chiang Mai in 1860, and some introductory comments about the arrival of the Rev. Daniel McGilvary in 1867.

Sir Robert Schomburgk [1804-1865] was a German-born explorer for Great Britain who carried out geographical, ethnological, and botanical studies in South America and the West Indies. He also held diplomatic posts for Great Britain in the Dominican Republic and Siam.

As a young man in 1826 he went to the United States and worked as a clerk in Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond where he became a partner in a tobacco exporting business.

In 1830 he surveyed Anegada in the British Virgin Islands and sent to the Royal Geographical Society in London a report that so impressed the directors that he was entrusted with conducting an expedition of exploration to British Guiana in 1835.

He fulfilled his mission with great success and in 1841 returned to Guiana as a British government official to survey the colony and fix its eastern and western boundries.

On his return to London in 1844 Schomburgk presented a report of his journey to the Geographical Society, for which he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1845.

In 1848 he was appointed British Consul to the Dominican Republic, where he served until 1857, when he was promoted to the position of British Consul-General of Siam.

When the British government became interested in exploiting the rich teak forests of the north around Chiang Mai, they sent Schomburgk in 1859 on a diplomatic mission to establish a British vice-consulate in that city.

The idea of a vice-consulate, later a consulate, was revived repeatedly by later consuls until it was finally established in 1884.

According to Reginald LeMay [An Asian Arcady. Cambridge, 1926], Schomburgk "...left only a meagre account of his journey. He went as far as Raheng [Tak] by boat, and then continued the journey on elephants. He passed through Lamphun and reached Chiengmai on 11 February 1860, the whole trip occupying just under two months. From Chiengmai he went by the trade route to Moulmein. Thus becoming one of the earliest, if not the first, European to reach the Gulf of Bengal from the Gulf of Siam via Chiengmai since the ill-fated Thomas Samuel at the beginning of the 17th century."

In a letter to his cousin, Schomburgk records some of his impressions... "After 43 days since our departure we arrived in Chiengmai. This town - the most northerly point of my journey - has a circumference of approximately 3 English miles, and is the residence of a Viceroy who, however, at that time was in Bangkok. The town itself is surrounded by walls, bastions and towers - the suburbs by palisades. The inhabitants are of fine physique and lighter in colour than the Siamese, above all the fairer sex, among whom many as regards their complexion can be compared to Italian women. Unlike the Siamese they wear their hair which is coal-black and shiny, a la chinoise, whereas the Siamese women cut it short, only leaving a round patch covered with hair, similar to those of a brush, on their heads. The unmarried women wear dresses woven out of silk, which reach only half-way; the bosom is uncovered - they merely throw a shawl of light silk and bright colours [which hides nothing] across their bosoms. The married women, on the other hand, conceal their bosoms with a thicker shawl, thrown crosswise across their breasts.

I had spent 13 days in Chiengmai before I could leave the city. From there I wanted to penetrate across the large mountain range to Moulmein on the Bay of Bengal. This route was considered unsafe in view of wild Indian tribes, and so I was given an escort of 140 men and 39 elephants. Two noblemen were in charge of the caravan.

On 26 April, 135 days after my departure, I and my companions safely returned to Bangkok. We thanked God Almighty that he had protected us so well during a voyage lasting so long, and covering approximately 1000 English miles.

I hope to go on leave in 1862, and to go to Europe for one year.."

Schomburgk retired from public service in 1864, suffering from ill-health. He died on 11 March 1865 in his native Germany.

Rest in peace.

After Sir Robert Schomburgk, the next farang on record to visit Chiang Mai was the Rev. Daniel McGilvary, a missionary from North Carolina.

The main interest in McGilvary's life was theology; Southern American Presbyterianism, actually the Scottish Calvinism high and dry, that had been transported to the backwoods of the Carolinas in the 18th century where it took root and flourished. It was not a dogma only but a stern discipline of life. The ministers satirized by Burns in his "Holy Fair" were representative types, but little overdrawn, of the then church in Scotland - clannish and combative since time out of mind... "They delight in their own" wrote Bartholomew the Englishman in the 13th century, "and they love not peace."

Such was the type of man who arrived in Chiang Mai on April 3rd 1867 after an arduous three-month journey from Bangkok with his wife and two small children.

His mission was to convert the Chaos and Kohn Muang to his Protestant form of Christianity.

Seemingly uninterested in the history, art, and culture of Chiang Mai, he was the prototype of the clueless farang who is oblivious to what extent Buddhism is related to traditional ways of life here.

The Lanna people practiced spirit religion and from the 12th century, Theravada Buddhism. In the 14th century the Venerable Sumana of Sukhothai had established a Sinhalese Theravada order in Lamphun and then in Chiang Mai. This Buddhist sect became the leading intellectual and cultural force in the kingdom for over two centuries. From the 15th century, monks, particularly from forest-dwelling communities, travelled to Sri Lanka to study and bring back to Lanna Thai what was considered to be an uncorrupted form of Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism. This relatively egalitarian form of Buddhism affected the structure of Lanna society and the way the princes governed. In contrast, neighbouring Siam was receptive to Indian and Khmer concepts of royalty, and a more hierarchical form of Buddhism with Hindu influences where the king was considered a demi-god.

In my next post I will look at what took place after McGilvary's arrival in Chiang Mai; the establishment of the first Christian mission in Northern Thailand; and subsequent events that ultimately led to the end of the Lanna dynasty.

To be continued.....

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...His mission was to convert the Chaos and Kohn Muang to his Protestant form of Christianity.

Seemingly uninterested in the history, art, and culture of Chiang Mai, he was the prototype of the clueless farang who is oblivious to what extent Buddhism is related to traditional ways of life here...

And they are still at it. Nice shirts and stealing moo bahn clubhouse aside, many Thais feel it's wonderful that not just old farangs marrying sex workers are prepared to hand over large sums of cash in return for little more than "yes, I believe you ka".

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Chiang Mai farangs in perspective. Pictures speak louder than words:

Speaking for yourself, I assume.

I never get so lucky.

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...His mission was to convert the Chaos and Kohn Muang to his Protestant form of Christianity.

Seemingly uninterested in the history, art, and culture of Chiang Mai, he was the prototype of the clueless farang who is oblivious to what extent Buddhism is related to traditional ways of life here...

And they are still at it. Nice shirts and stealing moo bahn clubhouse aside, many Thais feel it's wonderful that not just old farangs marrying sex workers are prepared to hand over large sums of cash in return for little more than "yes, I believe you ka".

So many of the missionaries that I've met here in the past 35 years have been almost caricatures of the doctrines they're trying to spread.

To me, the most offensive thing about them is their animus toward Buddhism, which is more than just a religion here, it's the heart and soul of traditional life.

On the positive side, it is undeniable that missionaries were the ones who introduced modern education and medical practices to Chiang Mai, starting with McGilvary in the mid-19th century.

When it became evident that Thais weren't going to be converted en masse, the missionaries turned their attention to the hilltribes where they've had some measure of success. Travelling from village to village in their 4WD pick-up trucks with their Old Testaments teaching these primitive people the silly fables of the jews.

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The post about Schomburgk was very interesting. I've heard of the "Schomburgk Line", somewhere in South America, and also the "Schomburgk Deer", but I was only vaguely aware that he had been the British Consul-General in Bangkok.

His trip to Chiang Mai didn't seem to have accomplished its objective of setting up a British diplomatic presence here. It took them another 24 years to get their foot in the door. Although the Borneo Company and Bombay-Burmah were both logging forest-leases before they had the consulate and extra-territorial court to support them in their continual litigation and contentious relations with the Chiang Mai Chaos.

Your dislike of missionaries makes your comments about McGilvary seem unfair, to say the least. Why not look at the way the Chiang Mai Chaos and the ordinary people judged him? His relations with Chao Kawilarot deteriorated drastically, that's true, but he had the support of Chao Witchayanon and Princess Tipkesorn upon their succession, and it lasted until the end of their lives. Another active supporter and close friend was Princess Ubonwanna, whose wealth from teak and other businesses seemed always to be at McGilvary's disposal.

His medical treatment of poor people, and his wife's educational work earned them the gratitude and love of many, who without their presence here wouldn't have had access to healthcare or education in their latest forms.

They were directly or indirectly responsible for the founding of institutions that survive to this day. McCormick Hospital, The Prince Royal's College, and Dara Academy among others.

The good that McGilvary did for Chiang Mai and its people far outweigh any personality quirks he may have had.

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Great stuff and a most interesting and informative "journey"...

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An awesome education for me. I never knew.

Best wishes on your new career path as CM notable historian.

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The post about Schomburgk was very interesting. I've heard of the "Schomburgk Line", somewhere in South America, and also the "Schomburgk Deer", but I was only vaguely aware that he had been the British Consul-General in Bangkok.

His trip to Chiang Mai didn't seem to have accomplished its objective of setting up a British diplomatic presence here. It took them another 24 years to get their foot in the door. Although the Borneo Company and Bombay-Burmah were both logging forest-leases before they had the consulate and extra-territorial court to support them in their continual litigation and contentious relations with the Chiang Mai Chaos.

Your dislike of missionaries makes your comments about McGilvary seem unfair, to say the least. Why not look at the way the Chiang Mai Chaos and the ordinary people judged him? His relations with Chao Kawilarot deteriorated drastically, that's true, but he had the support of Chao Witchayanon and Princess Tipkesorn upon their succession, and it lasted until the end of their lives. Another active supporter and close friend was Princess Ubonwanna, whose wealth from teak and other businesses seemed always to be at McGilvary's disposal.

His medical treatment of poor people, and his wife's educational work earned them the gratitude and love of many, who without their presence here wouldn't have had access to healthcare or education in their latest forms.

They were directly or indirectly responsible for the founding of institutions that survive to this day. McCormick Hospital, The Prince Royal's College, and Dara Academy among others.

The good that McGilvary did for Chiang Mai and its people far outweigh any personality quirks he may have had.

It's evident that the Schomburgk mission failed in its main purpose of establishing a British vice-consulate in Chiang Mai. But Schomburgk's position as a diplomat was so secure, and he had so many successes behind him that I don't think it mattered very much to him personally.

The visit was ill-timed to begin with. Chao Kawilarot was absent in Bangkok when Schomburgk arrived, so there was no one with enough authority in Chiang Mai to deal with. Schomburgk mistakenly refers to Kawilarot as a "Viceroy" when in fact he was a "Chao Chee-wit" ...Lord of Life. He could have given permission for a British diplomatic establishment with a nod of his head.

McGilvary's life and career is a heavy concern, and full of contradictions. I will try to summarize it and the effect it had on Chiang Mai history during the latter half of the 19th century in my next post.

Thank you for your continued interest.

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Great stuff and a most interesting and informative "journey"...

Thanks so much for your word of encouragement.

Chiang Mai history is a fascinating subject, and it's nice to know some others share my interest.

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