Creative Lanna

Views : 3457 | 20 Jan 2021
1 2 3 9 11

Creative Lanna

The tiles used for the roof of the Lanna Traditional House Museum date over a century and were moved to this location by the dismantling of donated old houses in order to promote the cultural arts at the university. The tiles are thin and made from sticky clay from Mae Hia of good quality featuring the distinctive ‘signature’ patterns of the Mae Hia area one hundred years ago.

A pile of unused and damaged tiles laid beneath a house on the museum grounds, to be repaired as an ongoing project which shows the dedication of the Creative Lanna team to preserving the past for the present and future.

For a while now there have been concerns that Lanna Studies was on the wane; fewer students enrolled in these classes and it appeared as though only those truly interested in the studies such as researchers and historians, paid much attention to the subjects. With this in mind a brainstorming session was held amongst the many Lanna scholars and researchers at the Chiang Mai University, resulting in a rethinking of the subject and studies - thus was formed Creative Lanna strategic plan.

“I see that the ways of life of the Lanna people, the good things of the Lanna people, are no longer part of the life of modern Lanna people and is not sustainable,” said  Assistant Professor Ekkachai Mahaek, Ph.D, Vice President of SDGs 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, CMU Creative Lanna. Creative Lanna is the dynamic new approach to how to develop Lanna studies based on the vast amount of research conducted by faculty researchers and students of the Chiang Mai University over the years, which have resulted in more data and research on the subject than found anywhere else. Traditionally there were eight categories of study; 1. Language and literature, 2. History, 3. Philosophy, religion, belief, magic and astrology,  4. Fine arts, crafts, dancing and music, 5. Architecture, 6. Cuisine, living, costumes, 7. Medicine, and 8. Anthropology.

Assistant Professor Ekkachai Mahaek, Ph.D, Vice President  Chiang Mai University

What used to be Lanna Studies, which was research based, has now become Creative Lanna, which focuses on living culture. Following analysis to create a new strategy, it was discovered that while there is a large amount of quality research and teaching on the subjects, the knowledge appears to be contained amongst smaller groups and lacks the ability to be relevant to society at large. All of this is reflected in the course enrollments. “We needed to find ways to make Lanna culture relevant today, not just on pages of research papers sitting on shelves. To that end we redefined our focus, narrowing them down to four main elements; Lanna Wisdom, Lanna Knowledge Portal, Creative Lanna Development and Lanna Landscape.”

“We started off with Lanna Wisdom, which was to curate and pool together all the vast amounts of research done on Lanna into one platform,” explained  Assistant Professor  Dr. Ekkachai “The problem in the past was that each researcher would do their work and then keep their findings or their knowledge to themselves. The next person wouldn’t even know that this matter has been covered, and would often duplicate the entire process. This is why we never developed, we kept reinventing the wheel. Now we have the data in one place so that one scholar can watch an information on a subject created by another scholar through new media from anywhere and use that information from which to continue the studies or expand on it. Our scholars offer short and long term courses so that interested parties can add knowledge to subject matters they are interested in.”

The word “Jaeng” in Lanna means corner and Creative Lanna has used this word to explain the four approaches of its new strategy to make Lanna culture relevant to today’s society. All together eight areas of expertise within the university have been restructured with the purpose of promoting the four Jaeng: Lanna Wisdom, Cultural Biodiversity/Lanna Knowledge Portal, Creative Lanna Development and Lanna Cultural Landscape.

Lanna Wisdom is the collection of all academic knowledge and data information which encompasses all eight areas of Lanna studies. Whereas in the past many researchers worked in their own fields, disconnected to others, now there will be a database to ensure knowledge gets passed on and the same work not repeated, allowing researchers to further the works of each other without having to start from scratch. Technology is used to catalogue all data and there are 1-3 day workshop courses which offers certifications through the Life Long Education system.

Lanna Knowledge is an umbrella term which encompasses cultural biodiversity, a portal of sorts to the wealth of data conducted by researchers worldwide. The information is found on and is designed to be used by the general public offering lifelong learning.

Creative Lanna is the development of startups and spin offs from the basis of Lanna including adding value to Lanna products such as textiles or ceramics. By drawing up on these ancient techniques and skills and applying it to modern interpretations, and by organising competitions and a process towards innovation and industry, it is hoped that such knowledge will not only create jobs, revitalise communities, but also ensure the sustainability of Lanna.

The Creative Lanna Design Center oversees the Lanna Landscape by providing a space to study, create, train and to add value to Lanna products. The Lanna Festival exhibition, for instance is held here and there is a project to develop a Lanna Creative District at the former Ford Field agricultural research plot on Nimmanhaemin Road. “This will become a playground of creativity and a place to come to engaged in cultural activities such as a cultural market. There are also the CMU Art and Culture Museum and 14 old Lanna houses and rice barns museum on this property, each older than a century, and with great architectural value.”

Lanna culture is over seven centuries old and Creative Lanna is determined to ensure its survival for centuries to come.  

Chiang Mai University. 239 Huay Kaew Road. Muang District. Chiang Mai. Thailand. 50200

Phone : +66 5394 1300
Fax : +66 5321 7143