I stood quietly in front of the Lanna Folklife Museum, Thai and foreign tourists milling around me. Some crossed the road to take a picture of the Three Kings Monument, others quietly took in the hustle and bustle of the town square.
The colonial style museum building used to house the provincial and district court. But in 2005 the municipality renovated it and turned it into the Lanna Folklife Museum. It’s quite an interesting museum, filled with all manner of arts and crafts of northern Thailand. Virtual interactive exhibits are everywhere, and there are also private collections on display.There were two exhibitions on while I was there; the Phra Upakut and Pa Sin Tin Jok exhibitions.
Pra Upakut exhibition was on the first floor. Phra Upakut amulet statues were on loan from the collection of Assistant Professor Wiluck Sripasang, a lecturer at Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna.
In the first exhibition there were a large number of Phra Upakut amulet statues made from gold, silver, bronze, stone, wood and baked clay. Most of them featured a novice with a lotus leaf over his head, the base covered in aquatic animal designs. I silently took in the relics, awed by their beauty and intricate design.
Phra Upakut or Phra Upakut Bua Khem is believed to have been a Buddhist clergy born two centuries after Buddha entered Nirvana. Buddhists see him as a protector and attractor of wealth. There were a total of eight Phra Upakuts, seven of whom entered Nirvana. One of them is still believed to reside in the middle of the Great Ocean.
Believers say that on every full moon, he transforms himself into a novice and roams the streets seeking alms. For this reason, on that day, Northern Thai Buddhists will offer alms between 2 am-5 am in hopes of becoming wealthy. Phra Upakut is also symbolically invited to come out of the river for temple ceremonies, to protect the ceremony from harm.
The Pa Sin Tin Jok exhibition was on the second floor. This collection was also on loan from a lecturer, Associate Professor Kanta Poonpipat, of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University. Upon entering the room, I immediately went to the info board to learn about what I was about to see.
Pa Sin Tin Joks are traditional Lanna textile skirts worn by the Tai Yuan women. These women lived in upper Northern Thailand, along the Ping, Wang, Yom, Nan and Ing Rivers. The textile skirts consist of three main sections; head, body and foot. The head section (at the waist) is mostly red in colour. The body section is approximately 40-60 centimeters in length, covered in various designs. The foot section (at the bottom) is the most important section. Weavers use the Jok technique (discontinuous supplementary weft) to create individual motifs. This technique is unique to this area, and known for being very difficult to master.
The collection was displayed in glass showcases, the age of each skirt between 60-150 years old. If you are a textile lover then you definitely shouldn’t miss this room, especially the piece in the middle, a Pa Sin Tin Jok woven with gold and silver silk threads, the mark of royalty.
If you’re interested in the art of Buddha statues, and also want to indulge in the beauty of traditional Lanna textile, then be sure to check out the Pro Upakut and Pa Sin Tin Jok Exhibitions, at the Lanna Folklife Museum.
Pra Upakut and Pa Sin Tin Jok exhibitions
Now- the end of this year at the Lanna Folklife Museum.
Thai Adult: 20 baht
Thai Child: 10 baht
Foreigner Adult: 90 baht
Foreigner Child: 50 baht
Open: 8:30 am – 5 pm (Tuesdays-Sundays, including the public holidays)