Sukhothai Kingdom

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Kingdom of Sukhothai
อาณาจักรสุโขทัย

1238–1583
1300 CE
Orange: Sukhothai Kingdom
Light Blue: Lavo Kingdom
Red: Khmer Empire
Yellow: Champa
Blue: Dai Viet
Purple: Lanna
Capital Sukhothai (old town)
Languages Thai
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Government Absolute monarchy
King
 -  1249 - 1257 Sri Indraditya
 -  1279 - 1299 Ramkhamhaeng the Great
Historical era Middle Age
 -  Liberation from Lavo Kingdom 1238
 -  Expansions under Ramkhamhaeng 1279 - 1299
 -  Became Ayutthayan tributary 1378
 -  Became Personal union with Kingdom of Ayutthaya 1438
 -  became part of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya 1583

The Sukhothai Kingdom (Thai: อาณาจักรสุโขทัย (pronunciation)) also known as Sukhodaya,[1] was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai, in north central Thailand. The Kingdom existed from 1238 until 1438. The old capital, now 12 km outside of New Sukhothai in Tambon Mueang Kao, is in ruins and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage historical park.

Etymology[edit]

The name derives from Sanskrit words Sukha (Pleasure) and Udaya (Ascent or Dawn) and translates as 'The rise/dawn of pleasure/happiness".

History[edit]

Liberation from Lawo[edit]

Wat Si Sawai, Sukhothai Historical Park
Seated Buddha in "Maravijaya", second half of century (Sukhothai).[2] The Walters Art Museum.

Prior to the 13th century, Tai kingdoms had existed on the northern highlands including the Ngoenyang (centered on Chiang Saen; predecessor of Lanna) kingdom and the Heokam (centered on Chiang Hung, modern Jinghong in China) kingdom of Tai Lue people. Sukhothai had been a trade center and part of Lawo, which was under the domination of the Khmer Empire. The migration of Tai people into upper Chao Phraya valley was somewhat gradual.

Modern historians stated that the secession of Sukhothai (once known as Sukhodaya)[1] from the Khmer empire began as early as 1180 during the reign of Pho Khun Sri Naw Namthom who was the ruler of Sukhothai and the peripheral city of Sri Satchanalai (now a part of Sukhothai Province as Amphoe). Sukhothai had enjoyed a substantial autonomy until it was re-conquered around 1180 by the Mons of Lavo under Khomsabad Khlonlampong.

Two brothers, Pho Khun Bangklanghao and Pho Khun Phameung took Sukhothai from Mon hands in 1239. Khun (ขุน) before becoming a Thai feudal, was a Tai title for a ruler of a fortified town and its surrounding villages, together called a muang; in older usage prefixed pho (พ่อ) father,[3] Comparable in sound and meaning to rural English Paw.) Bangklanghao ruled Sukhothai as Sri Indraditya – and began the Phra Ruang Dynasty - he expanded his primordial kingdom to the bordering cities. At the end of his reign in 1257, the Sukhothai kingdom covered the entire upper valley of the Chao Phraya River (then known simply as Menam, "Mother of Waters," the generic Thai name for rivers.)

Traditional Thai historians considered the foundation of the Sukhothai kingdom as the beginning of their nation because little was known about the kingdoms prior to Sukhothai. Modern historical studies demonstrate that Thai history began before Sukhothai. Yet the foundation of Sukhothai is still a celebrated event.

Wat Saphan Hin, Sukhothai Historical Park
Phra Achana, Wat Si Chum, Sukhothai Historical Park

Expansions under Ramkamhaeng[edit]

Pho Khun Ban Muang and his brother Ram Khamhaeng expanded the Sukhothai kingdom. To the south, Ramkamhaeng subjugated the kingdom of Supannabhum and Sri Thamnakorn (Tambralinga) and, through Tambralinga, adopted Theravada as state religion. Traditional history described the extension of Sukhothai in a great fashion and the accuracy of these claims is disputed. To the north, Ramkamhaeng put Phrae and Muang Sua (Luang Prabang) under tribute.

To the west, Ramkhamhaeng helped the Mons under Wareru (who is said to have eloped with Ramkamhaeng’s daughter) to free themselves from Pagan control and established a kingdom at Martaban (they later moved to Pegu). So, Thai historians considered the Kingdom of Martaban a Sukhothai tributary. However, in practice, such Sukhothai domination may not have extended that far.

With regard to culture, Ramkhamhaeng requested the monks from Sri Thamnakorn to propagate the Theravada religion in Sukhothai. In 1283, the Thai script was invented by Ramkamhaeng, formulating into the controversial Ramkamhaeng Stele discovered by Mongkut 600 years later.

It was also this time that the first relation with Yuan Dynasty was formulated and Sukhothai began sending trade missions to China. The well-known exported good of Sukhothai was the Sangkalok (Song Dynasty pottery) – the only period that Siam produced Chinese-styled ceramics and fell out of use by the 14th century.

Decline and domination of Ayutthaya[edit]

The Sukhothai domination was, however, short. After the death of Ramkhamhaeng, the Sukhothai tributaries broke away. Ramkhamhaeng was succeeded by his son Loethai. The vassal kingdoms, first Uttaradit in the north, then soon after the Laotian kingdoms of Luang Prabang and Vientiane (Wiangchan), liberated themselves from their overlord. In 1319 the Mon state to the west broke away, and in 1321 Lanna placed Tak, one of the oldest towns under the control of Sukhothai, under its control. To the south the powerful city of Suphanburi also broke free early in the reign of Loethai. Thus the kingdom was quickly reduced to its former local importance only. Meanwhile, Ayutthaya rose in strength, and finally in 1378 King Thammaracha II had to submit to this new power.

Replica of Silajaruek Pokhun Ramkhamhaeng

In 1378, the armies from Ayutthaya kingdom invaded and put Sukhothai under her tributary. Suffering the urban decline, Luethai moved the capital to Pitsanulok.

In 1424, after the death of Sailuethai, Paya Ram and Paya Banmeung the two brothers fought for the throne. Nagarindrathirat of Ayutthaya intervened and further divided the kingdom between the two. Their sister had married to Borommaracha II of Ayutthaya and produced a son, Prince Ramesuan. When Borommapan died in 1446 without any heirs, the throne passed to Ramesuan or Trailokanat. Ramesuan was also crowned as the King of Ayutthaya in 1448, thus began the personal union between the Kingdom of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

The Silajaruek Sukhothai are hundreds of stone inscriptions that form a historical record of the period. Among the most important inscriptions are Silajaruek Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng (Stone Inscription of King Ramkhamhaeng), Silajaruek Wat Srichum (an account on history of the region itself and of Sri Lanka), and Silajaruek Wat Pamamuang (a Politico-Religious record of King Loethai).

The kings of Sukhothai[edit]

Main article: List of Thai Monarchs

Comments: Sukhothai in Thai historiography[edit]

Sukhothai royal temple, replica in Muang Boran

Sukhothai story was narrated into Thailand's "national history" in late 19th century by King Mongkut, Rama IV, as a historical work presented to the British diplomatic mission. King Mongkut is considered as the champion of Sukhothai narrative history, based on his find of the Number One Stone Inscription, the 'first evidence' telling the history of Sukhothai.[4]

From then on, as a part of modern nation building process, modern national Siamese or Thai history comprises the history of Sukhothai. Sukhothai was said to be the 'first national capital',[1] followed by Ayutthaya, Thonburi until Rattanakosin or today Bangkok. Sukhothai history was crucial among Siam/ Thailand's 'modernists', both 'conservative' and 'revolutionary'.[citation needed] Rama IV (King Mongkut) said that he found 'the first Stone Inscription' in Sukhothai, telling story of Sukhothai's origin, heroic kings such as Ramkhamhaeng, administrative system and other developments, considered as the 'prosperous time' of the kingdom.

Sukhothai history became important even after the Revolution of 1932. Researches and writings on Sukhothai history were abundant.[5] Details derived from the inscription were studied and 'theorized'.[6] One of the most well-known topics was Sukhothai's 'democracy' rule. Story of the close relationship between king and his people, vividly described as 'father-son' relationship,[7] the 'seed' of Thai Democracy. However the change in ruling style took place when later society embraced 'foreign' tradition, Khmer's Angkor tradition, influenced by Hinduism and 'mystic' Mahayana Buddhism. The story of Sukhothai became the model of 'freedom'. Jit Bhumisak, a 'revolutionary' scholar, also saw Sukhothai period as the beginning of Thai people's liberation movement from foreign ruler, Angkor.

During military rule, from 1950s, Sukhothai was placed in Thai national curriculum. Sukhothai became model of 'father-son' rule, described as 'Thai Democracy', free from 'foreign ideology'; Angkorian tradition compared to communism. Other Sukhothai aspects were investigated seriously, such as commoner and slave status, and economic situation. These topics, said, were on stage of ideological thoughts fighting during the Cold war and civil insurgency times in 1960-1970s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cœdès, G. (1921). "The Origins of the Sukhodaya Dynasty". Journal of the Siam Society (Siam Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 14.1b (digital): 1. Retrieved March 17, 2013. "The dynasty which reigned during a part of the 13th and the first half of the 14th centuries at Sukhodaya and at Sri Sajjannlaya, on the upper Menam Yom, is the first historical Siamese dynasty. It has a double claim to this title, both because it cradle was precisely in the country designated by foreigners as "Siam" (Khmer: Syam; Chinese Sien, etc.), and because it is this dynasty which, by freeing the Thai principalities from the Cambodian yoke and by gradually extending its conquests as far as the Malay Peninsula, paved the way for the formation of the Kingdom of Siam properly so called." 
  2. ^ "Seated Buddha in "Maravijaya"". The Walters Art Museum. 
  3. ^ Terwiel, Barend Jan (1983). "Ahom and the Study of Early Thai Society". Journal of the Siam Society (Siamese Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 71.0 (digital): image 4. Retrieved March 7, 2013. "khun : ruler of a fortified town and its surrounding villages, together called a mu'ang. In older sources the prefix ph'o ("father") is sometimes used as well." 
  4. ^ Lingat, R. (1933). "History of Wat Pavaranivesa". Journal of the Siam Society (Siam Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 26.1c (digital). Retrieved March 17, 2013. "In 1837 King Phra Nang Klao made Prince Mongkut Abbot o£ Watt Pavaranivieca, situated close to wall, ih the northern part of the city. This monastery had been founded about ten years previously by Prince Cakti, who had been raised to the rank of Second King on the ascension of Phra Nang Klao, his nephew (1824-1832)." 
  5. ^ Bradley, C.B. (1909). "The Oldest Known Writing in Siamese; the inscription of Phra Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai, 1293 A.D.". Journal of the Siam Society (Siam Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 6.1b (digital). Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Epigraphical and historical studies, nos. 1-24 published in the Journal of the Siam Society from 1968-1979"--Pref. Includes bibliographical references. Subjects: Inscriptions, Thai. Notes: English and Thai; some Pali (in roman).
  7. ^ Sarasin Viraphol (1977). "Law in traditional Siam and China: A comparative study". Journal of the Siam Society (Siam Heritage Trust). JSS Vol. 65.1c (digital). Retrieved March 17, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Royal house
Sukhothai Dynasty
Founding year: 1238
Preceded by
Lavo Kingdom
Ruling Dynasty of the
Kingdom of Sukhothai

1238-1583
Succeeded by
Ayutthaya Kingdom