Thailand (previously known as Siam has been populated ever since the dawn of civilization in Asia. There are conflicting opinions of the origins of the Thais. It presumed that about 4,500 years. Thais originated in northwestern Szechuan in China and later migrated down to Thailand along the southern part of China. They split into two main groups. One settled down in the North and became the kingdom of “Lanna” and the other one is in further south, which afterward was defeated by the Khmers and became the kingdom of “Sukhothai”. There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the Thais originated in the southern part of what is now China about 4,500 years ago. Recently, however, this theory has been altered by the discovery of prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of UdonThani province in the Northeast. From these evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years, as well as other indication of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected by archaeologists. It now appears that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including China. The controversy over the origin of the Thais shows no sign of definite conclusion as many more theories have been put forward and some even go further to say that Thais were originally of Austronesian rather than Mongoloid. What the outcomes of the dispute may be, by the 13th century the Thais had already settled down within the southeast Asia.
From the 9th to the 11th century, the central and western area of Thailand was occupied by Mon civilization called Dvaravati. The Mon share the same common lineage as the Khmers and settle in southern Burma latter. The Influence of Dvaravati include Nakhon Pathom, Khu Bua, Phong Tuk , and Lawo (Lopburi). Dvaravati was Indianized culture, Theravada Buddhism was remained the major religion in this area. By the 11th-12th centuries, Mon Influenced over central Thailand. Khmer cultural influence was brought in the form of language, art and religion. The “Sanskrit” language was entered in Mon-Thai vocabulary during the Khmer or Lopburi Period. The influence of this period has affected many provinces in the north-east such as Kanchanaburi and Lopburi. The Architecture in “Angkor” was also constructed according to the Khmers style. The Khmer built stone temples in the northeast, some of which have been restored to their former glory, those at Phimai and Phanom Rung and further cultures are stone sculptures and stone Buddha images. Politically, however, the Khmer cultural dominance did not control the whole area but power through vassals and governors.
Northern Thailand was once occupied by the ancient Lanna Empire, which spread over Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun and Phayao. Tucked comfortably in a valley, Chiang Mai – Lamphun and Chiang Rai – Phayao represented the two main plateaus of the empire. Known as Haripunchai, Chiang Mai – Lamphun subsequently expanded to include Kelang Nakhon, or Lampang. Meanwhile, Chiang Rai – Payao in those days was known as Yonok. The chronicles of the origin of “Lan Na” to “Chiang Saen” lies on the Mae Kong River. Its first leader named “King Mengrai”, ascended to the throne in 1259. He extended the kingdom from the borders of Laos to Lamphum. According to an ancient inscription, Haripunchai was seized by Phraya Mengrai, who then built Chiang Mai as hiskingdom’s capital. The construction, which started in B.E. 1839 (1296 A.D.) was witnessed by Phya Ngum Muang of Phayao and Phra Ruang of Sukhothai. Apparently, the three kings were close friends and their kingdoms were so closely related that they were like a consolidated nation. Territorial boundaries made no difference to the peoples of the three kingdoms, Who enjoyed an exceptionally active trade relations. As a memorial to such friendly links, a monument of the three kings was built and they now stand immortalized in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall. Lan Na flourished for over 200 years. Its arts and literature rose at the peak, especially in the middle of 15th century, the King Tilokoraj period. Chiang Mai in this period was also chosen as the navel of the eight world synod of Theravada Buddhism. After the death of King Tilokoraj, the kingdom suffered from internal conflicts. Lan Na weakened because of wars with Sukhothai’s successors.
Sukhothai, meaning the ”Dawn of Happiness” was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom founded in 1238, by two Thai chieftains, Khun Bang Klang Tao and Khun Pa Muang , this ending Khmer rule from Angkor Wat. In the early 1300s, Sukhothai enjoyed rule over the Chao Phya River basin, westward to the bay of Bengal and the entire Peninsula. A kingdom that was short-lived but of immense cultural importance in the nation’s history. Sukhothai period was the most flourishing period of Thailand. It quickly expanded its boundary of influence after independence. Sukhothai period was considered to be a golden age of Thai culture. During that time in the history, everybody could say that “There were fish in the waters and rice in the fields”. The boundary of Sukhothai stretched from Lampang in the north to Vientiane, in present day Laos and the south to the Malay Peninsula. Sukhothai saw the Thais’ gradual expansion throughout the entire Chao Phraya River basin and the establishment of Theravada Buddhism as the paramount Thai religion. During this time Thai had strong friendship with neighboring countries. It absorbed elements of various civilizations which they came into contact. Thai maintained and advanced their culture ties with China. The potters entered Thai artistry and extensive trade was established with Cambodia and India. After the death of Khun Pha Muang in 1279, Ramkhamhaeng King, the third son of Si Inthrahit, ascended to the throne. Under the Ramkhamhaeng King, Sukhothai had strong friendship with neighboring China. King Ramkhamhaeng organized a writing system which became the basis for writing and eventually developed to be the modern Thai alphabet. It was here that the first evidence of written Thai was left, along with distinctively Thai styles of art such as painting, sculpture, architecture and literature, which survived after Sukhothai was absorbed by the kingdom of Ayutthaya – a dynamic young kingdom further south in the Chao Phraya River valley.