Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre

There is a statue of the three kings who founded Chiang Mai in front of the rather lovely Arts and Cultural Centre building built in 1924.

The Cultural Centre was excellent. Our minds were blown early on in our visit by the concept of cosmic town planning!

Cities are thought to have their own identities, and like humans have areas that correspond with the head, navel and so on. Astrologers were used to determine Chiang Mai's layout, they decided the head was in the north and was the area of good fortune, its navel is, as its name suggests, in the center of the town and was where significant buildings such as the palace were to be located, and the cardinal points of the compass serve as other important areas - west for learning, east for industriousness and south signified chaos and death.

Cities are regarded as sacred centres of the kingdom and therefore auspicious signs etc are looked for in planning their location and the city is given its own birth chart - Chiang Mai was born at 4am on Thursday 8th of Visakha, in the year of the Monkey, 1296. Apparently there is a stone inscription at Wat Chiang Man which we visited yesterday but we somehow missed the stone.

We'll have to go back to the Cultural Centre. There was such a lot of info in 15 rooms of displays well put together and presented in a variety of formats, video, models, photos, artifacts and so on. There is a very pleasant coffee shop that makes good freshly ground coffee but we still walked home sort of pleasantly numb from information overload.

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