Chronicles of Chiang Khaeng: A Tai Lü Principality of the Upper Mekong
By Volker Grabowsky and Renoo Wichasin
Chronicles of Chiang Khaeng goes far beyond a mere annotated translation of four Lü chronicles. The polyglot co-authors, Grabowsky and Wichasin, take the annotations out of their meticulously researched footnotes of the translation proper and deftly integrate them into a history, not only of a principality in northwestern Laos, but a panorama of the jostlings for power among other chiang and their respective chao in the upper Mekong region. This geographic area outlines a cultural realm that shared Buddhist ethics and dhammic writing while also subscribing to the notion of hierarchy reinforced by demands for tribute, the display of regalia and pomp, and the brutal armed removal of local populations in incessant wars over human resources.
Myth and history merge in these chronicles, which document sibling and spousal rivalries in networks of intermarriage and political alliances among the elite of the region. All of this was taking place at a time in history when the British and French arrived on the scene to engage China and newly emerging Siam in a mapping exercise that brought an end to centuries of regional rule by previously fairly autonomous city states.
In this careful study, Chiang Khaeng emerges as a paradigm of a Southeast Asian tributary state with more than one overlord. Chronicles is a model of translation skill and historical acumen at its finest.
About the authors
Volker Grabowsky is professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Münster, Germany.
Renoo Wichasin was associate professor of Thai philology at Chiang Mai University until 2008.
Chiang Mai 2011
Size 190 x 250 mm