324th Meeting – Tuesday, July 13th 2010

 

The Fortifications of Chiang Mai and

the Enigma of the Finlayson Map

A talk and presentation by Andrew Forbes and David Henley

 

Present: Trevor Gibson, Pierre Chaslin, Jennifer Dyson, David Engel, Adrian Pieper, Hans and Sangdao Bänziger, Victoria Vorreiter, Jack Eisner, Gary Suwannarat, Guy Cardinal, Derrick Titmus, Ricky Ward, Ralph Kramer, Sjon Hauser, John Cadet, David Blair Brown, Peter Dawson, Cherdsak Treerayapiwat, Roy Clark, John Wickenden, Art Halbisen, Vithi Phanichphant, Anthony Irwin, Micah Morton, Clarence Shettlesworth, Aree Suksiri, Hunter Marston, Daniel Bellamy, Colin Hinshelwood, Masao Imamura. An audience of 31.  

 

Summary of their talk and presentation written by Andrew

Introductory Remarks

1. Before the founding of Chiang Mai by King Mangrai in 1296 fortified cities or wiang tended to be surrounded by oval-shaped or ‘conch-shaped’ fortifications – as, for example, at Lamphun and Phrao. The Lamphun moat and what remains of the walls and gates are still clearly conch-shaped.

2. As the towns grew sometimes additional suburbs were added and protected by earthen ramparts – like Chiang Mai’s still extant Kamphaeng Din. Hans Penth styles these additions ‘compartments’, but they might also be described as outer walled suburbs.

3. Mangrai and his collaborators, Ramkhamhaeng and Ngam Muang, decided to lay out the new city – Chiang Mai – on an almost square basis measuring approximately 1.5 kilometres on each of its four sides. Although the greater part of the ramparts were demolished during the mid-20th century, and the rubble used for road building, the four corner bastions still stand firm, dating in their present form from the restorations carried out by Chao Kawila at the end of the 18th century.

Old City Bastions

Jaeng Katam

Starting from Thapae Gate and turning south, the first bastion reached is Jaeng Katam, or ‘Fish Trap Corner’, where local people used to catch fish in a large pond which has long since disappeared. Today Katam Corner is a quiet place, though the bastion itself looks spectacular enough when Chiang Mai municipality turns on the fountains and illuminating lights.

Jaeng Ku Ruang

Proceeding due west, past Chiang Mai and Suan Prung gates, the next bastion reached, at the Old City's southwest corner, is Jaeng Ku Ruang. The origins of this name are obscure, though Chiang Mai city council has erected a sign that explains that ‘the name means a stupa-like structure containing the ashes of a person called Ruang’. It seems very probable that this may derive from the period 1321–25, when Prince Khrua, a troublesome son of King Mangrai, was held prisoner at this point under the guard of a person called Ruang. This southwestern bastion is today in excellent condition, with well-preserved battlements offering clear views of Doi Suthep.

Jaeng Hua Rin

A further 1.5 kilometres due north, passing Suan Dok Gate en route, is Jaeng Hua Rin, the city's northwestern corner. This bastion, which faces Huai Kaeo Road and once again offers fine views of Doi Suthep, is also well preserved. The battlements on top are high enough to protect a small, circular redoubt. It is here that fresh water enters the moat – formerly at this point the waters of Huai Kaeo, the ‘Crystal Brook’, were channeled along an aqueduct over the moat to supply the Old City – and from this derives the name Hua Rin, or ‘Head of the Watercourse’.

 

 

Jaeng Sri Phum

The fourth and last of the Old City bastions, Jaeng Sri Phum or ‘Light of the Land Corner’, is situated at the Old City's north-eastern extremity, about 750 metres due north of Thapae Gate. According to legend, this bastion marks the first point of the original city fortifications founded by King Mangrai more than 700 years ago. Formerly, not far from here, stood a giant Banyan tree, held to be highly auspicious and regarded as a source of Chiang Mai's power, prosperity and security. Today, sadly, the Banyan tree is no more, though the shrine of San Lak Muang Jaeng Sri Phum stands close by the bastion, and regularly receives offerings and reverence from the townspeople.

Jaeng Thiphanet

Chiang Mai also has a fifth bastion, Jaeng Thiphanet, set in the south-western corner of the city’s outer ‘Earthen Ramparts’ or kamphaeng din. The least-known, least visited and indeed least-visible of Chiang Mai’s brick ramparts.

Old City Gates

Chiang Mai Old City's five gates, known in Thai as pratu, or entrance ways, tend to be noisy places, teeming with life and vibrating to the throb of a continuous stream of traffic. To be sure, they were not always like this. Photographs and descriptions which have come down to us from times past show that the traditional gateways were narrow structures, easily closed at night, designed for merchants and travelers on foot, elephants from the surrounding hills, and mule trains from nearby Yunnan rather than for modern vehicular traffic.

In contrast to the corner bastions, which date in their present form from the late 18th century, Chiang Mai's gateways are uniformly modern structures, loosely recreated from old photographs and oral history by the city authorities, in conjunction with the Department of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University and ‘a group of dedicated private citizens’ between 1966 and 1969.

Pratu Thaphae

The most authentic of these reconstructions is Pratu Thaphae, the city's eastern entrance. Originally established by King Mangrai in 1296, this gate was for many centuries known as Pratu Chiang Ruak after a neighbouring village located beyond the city walls. The name Pratu Thaphae was first applied to a gate in the outer earthen ramparts built or restored by Chao Kawila in about 1800 and situated by Wat Saen Fang – the name Thaphae, or ‘Raft Landing’ derives from its location close to the River Ping. At some stage during the 19th century Pratu Chiang Ruak became known colloquially as Pratu Thaphae Nai, or ‘Inner Thaphae Gate’, in contradistinction to Kawila's gate, which was called Pratu Thaphae Nok, or ‘Outer Thaphae Gate’. Following the demolition of this outer gate in the late 19th century the name Pratu Thaphae came to be applied to the former Pratu Chiang Ruak, a designation which holds today.

Pratu Chiang Mai

Proceeding clockwise around the Old City, the next gate encountered is Pratu Chiang Mai. Founded by Mangrai in 1296, restored by Kawila in about 1800, and rebuilt entirely in 1966–69, this gateway traditionally led to the old Lamphun Road. In its present incarnation Pratu Chiang Mai has been widened to allow a heavy flow of traffic, and an extensive market – Gat Pratu Chiang Mai – has grown up in the vicinity, selling a wide variety of fresh and cooked goods, general household items and hardware. On a still day the fragrance of joss sticks burning at the well-maintained shrine of San Chao Pu Pratu Chiang Mai, located just to the east of the main gateway, is faintly discernible in the air.

Pratu Suan Prung

Located in the Old City's south-western quarter, this gate is something of a curiosity. Unlike the other four gates – all of which were founded by King Mangrai in and around 1296 – Pratu Suan Prung dates from the reign of King Sam Fang Kaen (1401-1441), who is reported to have built it for his mother, who had a palace outside the city walls at Suan Rae (near today’s Suan Prung Hospital). It was the royal mother’s habit to enter the city on a daily basis to supervise construction of Wat Chedi Luang, and the king built the new gate to afford her more direct access than via the more distant Chiang Mai Gate further to the east.

Pratu Suan Prung stands near to Jaeng Ku Ruang, the most ill-fated of the city’s bastions, and is set in the most inauspicious section of the city walls. It has for many centuries been used by the citizens of Chiang Mai to take their dead for cremation south of the city beyond Pratu Hai Ya, a custom which continues to the present day. In this, as Wyatt and Wichienkeeo point out in their translation of the Chiang Mai Chronicle, Pratu Suang Prung is similar to the Pratu Phi or ‘Spirit Gate’ of both Phrae and Kengtung, also the Pratu Mara or ‘Devil’s Gate’ of both Sukhothai and Kamphaengphet.

Pratu Suan Dok

Continuing west and then north beyond Ku Ruang corner, the ancient walls extend for some distance behind the local garden centres towards Chiang Mai's western entrance, Pratu Suan Dok or ‘Flower Garden Gate’. In former times outside this gateway lay the gardens of King Ku Na who, in 1371, founded Wat Suan Dok, or ‘Flower Garden Temple’. This was once a fortified wiang, or monastery, built on the site of a royal garden and surrounded by its own moats. Pratu Suan Dok is one of the locations mentioned in the Chiang Mai Chronicle in relation to Prince Khrüa’s planned coup against King Saen Phu in 1319 [above]. It is also mentioned in the Chronicle’s account of the year 1345, when King Pha Yu (1337–55) interred the ashes of his father, King Kham Fu (1328–37) ‘near the Suan Dok Gate, where he had a chedi built to enshrine them, and he built a temple there for monks to live in’ [Wat Phra Singh].

Pratu Chang Phuak

Finally, set square in the centre of the Old City's northern wall, is the venerable Pratu Chang Phuak - not that the gateway itself is especially remarkable today. Originally established by King Mangrai in 1296, this gate was once known as Pratu Hua Wiang, or ‘Head of the City Gate’, for it was by this way that rulers of the Kingdom of Lan Na once entered the capital en route to their coronation. During the reign of King Saen Muang Ma (1385–1401), however, the neighbouring Chang Phuak or ‘White Elephant’ monument was established, and the name of the northern gate was subsequently changed to Pratu Chang Phuak.

Pratu Si Phum Gate

The city’s sixth gate, Pratu Si Phum or ‘Light of the Land Gate’, no longer exists. According to the Chiang Mai Chronicle, King Tilokarat (1441–1487), desiring to attain the status of cakkavattiraja or ‘universal monarch’ consulted with a supposedly knowledgeable Burmese ascetic from Pagan. The Burmese, Mang Lung Lwang, was secretly in the service of the Siamese, and sought to destroy the good fortune of Chiang Mai. To this end, he advised Tilokarat to cut down an auspicious banyan tree at Ban Sri Phum, tear down the fortifications at that point, and build a new palace on the spot. The work was undertaken in 1465–66, and included the construction of a new gate, named Pratu Sri Phum, thought to have stood approximately where Mun Muang Soi 7 faces the moat today.

It is not known when Pratu Sri Phum was eventually torn down. It seems that its name was changed at some point to Pratu Chang Moi, or ‘Drowsy Elephant Gate’, as the northernmost gate in the nearby Kamphaeng Din, or Earthen Ramparts, was later designated Pratu Chang Moi Nok or ‘Outer Drowsy Elephant Gate’. It too no longer exists, having been torn down in the early 20th century, but a sign erected by Chiang Mai Municipality on Sithiwong Road, by the banks of the Khlong Mae Kha where the bridge used to stand, suggests that it took its name from the nearby gate into the Old City called Pratu Chang Moi Nai, or ‘Inner Drowsy Elephant Gate’. Either way, no sign of Pratu Sri Phum survives today.

Kamphaeng Din: The City’s ‘Earthen Ramparts’

Visitors to Chiang Mai are swiftly aware of the moats and city walls that surround the Old City. First established by King Mangrai in 1296, and most recently restored in the 1990s, these remaining brick ramparts add considerably to the charm of the northern capital, and are as synonymous with the city as Wat Pra Singh and Doi Suthep. By contrast many fewer people, whether visitors or residents, are aware of Chiang Mai's outer city wall that snakes, largely unseen, hidden by houses and dense vegetation, through the city's southern and eastern suburbs.

Chiang Mai was captured by King Bayinnaung of Pegu in 1558, and remained under Burmese domination until 1776, when forces owing allegiance to King Taksin of Siam captured it. By this time the former Kingdom of Lan Na had become a shadow of its glorious past during the golden years of King Mangrai and Tilokarat, and Chiang Mai, exhausted and depopulated by decades of almost continuous warfare, was abandoned for 20 years. Only in 1787, in the 6th year of the reign of King Rama I, was a decision taken to resettle and revive the city as a bastion of Siamese power in the north. The task of re-establishment fell to Chao Kawila, the Lord of Lampang, who was established as Viceroy of the North in 1796, and immediately began the task of refortifying and resettling the city.

Over the next four years, on the orders of Chao Kawila, Chiang Mai's city walls were restored and strengthened as a bulwark against the continuing attacks of the Burmese. By 1800, the main walls and gates enclosing the old city had been rebuilt, and Kawila was able to turn his attention to the burgeoning southern and eastern suburbs, located between the Old City and the River Ping – an area which today includes Chang Moi, Thaphae, Loi Khroh and Sri Donchai to the east, as well as well as Rakaeng, Nantaram and Thiphanet to the south.

For the defence of these districts, an earthen rampart – in Thai, kamphaeng din – faced with brick and reinforced at its southwestern extremity with a curved brick bastion, was built southwards from Jaeng Ku Ruang, the Old City’s Southwest Corner. Turning first to the east, and then northwards, these ramparts encompassed a broad sweep of land between the present Thiphanet and Chang Moi areas, before finally swinging northwest to rejoin the Old City wall at the Northeast, Sri Phum Corner. On the outer side of this wall, as an additional defence, local streams were redirected to form a moat; in the west, flowing south from the Old City moat, the waters of Huai Kaew, the ‘Crystal Stream’, and in the east, flowing southward to meet them, the waters of the Khlong Mae Kha, or ‘Galingale Canal’.

These outer defences, designed to protect commercial areas of the city rapidly being resettled with deportees from Tai-speaking areas further to the north such as Chiang Saen and Kengtung, were completed around 1800, and may have played an important role in defending the city against renewed Burmese attack in 1802. Whether the ‘Earthen Ramparts’ were entirely new, or a restored version of an earlier wall, is not certain, though the latter seems likely. King Muang Kaew (1495-1526), the 14th ruler of the Mangrai Dynasty, may have built an earlier defensive structure in this area during his reign (1495-1526). Similarly Pratu Khua Kom, the former ‘Small Bridge Gate’ in the Wat Nantaram area of the ramparts, is mentioned in records dating from 1615, nearly two centuries before Kawila’s time. In either case, following Kawila’s restorations, the Burmese were never again to succeed in capturing Chiang Mai.

The Earthen Ramparts were pierced by five gates, none of which survive, except in name, at the present day. Running from west to east, these were:

Pratu Haiya, just south of the junction between Thiphanet and Wua Lai Roads

Pratu Khua Kom, where Suriyawong Road crosses the Khlong Mae Kha

Pratu Rakaeng, where Rakaeng Road crosses the same stream

Pratu Thaphae Nok, the ‘Outer Thaphae Gate’, by Wat Saen Fang

All four gates are represented on James McCarthy’s Map of Chiang Mai published by the Royal Geographical Society, London, in 1891.

A fifth gate, Pratu Chang Moi, which once stood further to the north where Chang Moi Kao Road meets Sitthiwong Road by the Khlong Mae Kha, is not mentioned by name on McCarthy’s map, but a plaque on Sitthiwong Road records its existence and the fact that it was torn down early in the 20th century.

Some of the best-preserved sections of the Kamphaeng Din are to be found in the western extremities, winding through, behind, and even under residential sections of southern Chiang Mai. Here the accompanying moat streams, formed by the waters flowing out of the main city moats, are relatively clear and clean. They run southwards, in the shadow of the old Earthen Ramparts, from a small spirit house close by Suan Prung hospital towards Thiphanet Market. At this point a well-preserved brick fortification – in fact Chiang Mai's fifth and least-known bastion – rises above the houses, topped with a shrine to the local spirit guardian, Chao Pho Chumchon Thiphanet, the ancient brickwork held together by the massive roots of a venerable old tree.

Beyond this point, as the wall swings eastwards, is an area still known as Pratu Haiya. Little remains of this once southernmost point of entry to Chiang Mai's fortified section, but the observant pedestrian or driver on Tippanet Road will notice yet another shrine where the remains of the crumbling outer wall are pierced by 21st century tarmac.

From Pratu Haiya the old wall is somewhat easier to follow, as its course is traced by narrow tracks – often suitable only for walking – leading through a maze of poorer districts lying behind Wat Nantaram. Here the accompanying moat stream takes a turn for the worse, as it meets the polluted waters of the Khlong Mae Kha before running away southwards to join the River Ping. From this point the wall marches northwards beside the Khlong Mae Kha until the best-known stretch, at Thanon Kamphaeng Din, is reached.

By Thanon Kamphaeng Din substantial sections of the outer wall are clearly visible. Houses – some of them quite middle class – alternate with poorer dwellings, though the neighbourhood becomes obviously more affluent as it approaches the Night Bazaar.

Beyond Thanon Khamphaeng Din, really nothing of the Earthen Ramparts remain, though we know that, where they crossed Thaphae Road, was once the site of Pratu Thapae Nok, the Outer Thapae Gate. From this point, following the outer walls of Wat Saen Fang, they once curved northwest along Sitthiwong Road, along the west bank of the Khlong Mae Kha, to meet the Old City Wall by Wat Chai Sri Phum.

A Northern Kamphaeng Din

It seems very likely, however, that even before the southern Kamphaeng Din was erected, a similar structure had been erected to enclose another ‘compartment’ to the north of the Old City, an area long associated with Lan Na royalty and nobility, but which has since all but disappeared. Penth believed that in former times there was at least one, and perhaps more of these walled outer suburbs to the north of the Old City, and he writes that in the mid-1960s it was still possible to see the ‘levelled remains’ of these earthen walls.

Penth suggests that this northern Kamphaeng Din began as a triple rampart close to Jaeng Hua Rin, the city’s northwest bastion, and ran north for about 50 metres before becoming a single wall and curving east ‘until, after several zig-zags, it divided into two branches’. The southern branch continued eastward, passing close to the White Elephant monument at Anusawari Khuang Chang Phuak before rejoining the Old City walls at or near Jaeng Sri Phum – or, more probably, by the marshy banks of Nong Bua, a lake fed by the waters of the Klong Mae Kha that lay north of the Old City walls in the area of Thanon Prachana Rattana until at least the early 20th century.

The other branch of the northern Kamphaeng Din curved further north and east, passing the area of Thanin Market (Gad Thanin) before turning southeast, apparently also headed for Nong Bua pond and the northeast bastion of the Old City. Finally, Penth writes that he also ‘heard of the remains of another earth wall crossing the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim Road still further north, on the south bank of the brook Huai Chang Khian.

This is all invaluable information to the historian, not least because it is now all but impossible to identify any of these outer walls. Being largely made of tamped earth, they would have been relatively easily demolished, especially with modern earth-moving equipment like back-hoes and bulldozers. Of course, it’s quite possible that small sections of these walls do still exist, hidden in some obscure back yard – but if so, these relics are not readily apparent, and certainly not as obvious as the southern Kamphaeng Din remains today.

Chiang Mai in 1816: The Puzzle of the ‘Finlayson Map’

Carefully secured in the stacks of the British Library in London, catalogued as India Office Prints and Drawings WD 1750, is what may be – certainly what purports to be – the earliest known map of the old Lan Na capital of Chiang Mai. Drawn in pen-and-ink and watercolour, on paper 48cm by 37cm (19in by 15in), it is listed simply as ‘Plan of temple at Chiengmai (Siam), c.1816’. Little more is known of the map, the provenance of which remains obscure. It is filed away with the Finlayson Collection, but almost as though tacked on as an afterthought, the last of 127 prints and drawings in the group, the only map, and the only item relating to the Kingdom of Lan Na – or, indeed, any part of Siam much north of the general vicinity of Bangkok. The catalogue information remarks briefly: ‘Inscribed on front in ink: “Cheung Mai”; note 1814 water-mark’, and concludes: ‘There is nothing to show how or when this drawing reached the Library. It may possibly have been acquired by Finlayson or Crawfurd during the expedition to Siam, as earlier contacts with Siam were rare’.

An Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China

Dr George Finlayson (1790-1823), a native of Thurso in Scotland, served under Dr John Crawfurd (1783-1868), a fellow Scot from the Island of Islay and leader of the British East India Company Mission to Siam and Vietnam of 1821-2, which Finlayson represented as surgeon and naturalist. The mission remained at Bangkok between March 22 and July 18, 1822, before departing to visit the Vietnamese Court at Hue. During his time in Siam, Finlayson produced a remarkable collection of prints and drawings, chiefly of local flora and fauna, but also of everyday scenes in and around Bangkok and the Gulf of Siam.

Unfortunately Finlayson was already seriously ill by this time, having contracted an illness – perhaps malaria – on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, of which Crawfurd writes: ‘My poor friend, Mr. Finlayson, caught, from severe exertions he made today [March 16, 1822] under a burning sun, the malady which afterwards proved fatal to him; and which, during the remainder of the voyage, unfortunately deprived me of the active exercise of his valuable talents’. In his own account, Finlayson attributes his illness to sunstroke, noting: ‘We had been much exposed to a powerful sun during this day, the bad effect of which I soon after was destined to experience, having been laid up for some days with fever, which rendered me totally incapable to attending to any thing’.

Although weakened, Finlayson went on to visit Hue between September 28 and October 17 1822, recording his impressions of the Court of the Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang (1820-41). The mission returned safely to Calcutta on December 29, 1822, but the unfortunate Finlayson died soon after of the illness he had contracted on Phu Quoc. He was only 33 years old.

Finlayson’s account of The Mission to Siam and Hué was published posthumously in 1826, accompanied by a long and complimentary forward by Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), the founder of Singapore. A more detailed account of the mission was subsequently published by John Crawfurd in 1828 under the title Journal of an Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China. Neither book makes any substantive reference to Chiang Mai, which the mission did not visit, though Crawfurd makes some brief mention to ‘The country of the Lao’, amongst which he includes ‘Changmai’, noting that it is ‘under the dominion of Siam’.

Finlayson’s Map of Chiang Mai

The various papers, drawings and paintings collected by George Finlayson eventually made their way safely back to the United Kingdom, where they were lodged at the India Office Library. We have no way of knowing, but it seems probable that the map of Chiang Mai was acquired by Finlayson during his short visit to Bangkok, and was included with the collection of his papers posthumously before being sent to London. The presence of a map of Chiang Mai in a collection of papers relating otherwise exclusively to central and southern Siam is clearly something of an anomaly, but seems easy enough to account for.

This is certainly more than can be said of the map itself. We have no information regarding its provenance (other than the fact that it was almost certainly collected by Finlayson during the Crawfurd Mission). It is clearly marked in the upper margin, in English, using a bold pen: ‘Cheung Mai before the Inner Wall was removed’. Beneath is a highly stylised representation of an approximately square city showing an Inner and Outer Canal, as well as a series of three concentric walls. The outer wall is pierced by eight gates and defended by eight bastions. The second wall is pierced by a further eight gates and defended by eight bastions. The inner wall has just one entrance, in style similar to a temple, and indeed the wall itself is surmounted by sema stones, suggesting a temple precinct. The residence of the ruler is shown at the centre of this innermost walled city.

All well and good – but is it really a map of Chiang Mai? We know that, according to the Chiang Mai Chronicle and other sources, King Mangrai laid out the initial fortifications of Chiang Mai in 1296 in an area that was almost square, measuring approximately 1.5 km on each of its four sides. We further know that through most of its history this single wall was defended by a single moat, a bastion at each corner, and a single gate on each of its sides, the exception being the southern wall, where there were two gates, as indeed there are today.

Chiang Mai was occupied by the Burmese between 1558 and 1776, when it was captured by a joint force owing allegiance to Chao Kawila, Lord of Lampang, and Siamese armies loyal to King Taksin. The city was then abandoned until 1781, during the 6th year of the reign of King Rama I, when Kawila was ordered to resettle and re-establish the city. This Kawila did, taking care to repair the fortifications both of the Old City and nearby Kamphaeng Din, the earthen ramparts guarding the southern and eastern commercial quarters of the city. By the beginning of the 19th century Kawila had achieved this task, and the current fortifications – notably the four main Old City bastions – date, in their present form, from this time.

Some three decades later Chiang Mai was visited by Captain William Couperus McLeod, as part of his expedition to Lan Na and the Burmese Shan States in 1837, on behalf of the British authorities in India. McLeod left a description of the city fortifications – which he looked down on from Doi Suthep – that more or less matches the layout of the Old City as we know it today. In other words, at the time of Kawila’s restoration (c.1800) and also at the time of Mcleod’s visit (1837), the Old City was protected by a single fortified wall and a single moat, as it apparently was at the time of Mangrai’s foundation in 1296, and as it remains today.

And yet the ‘Finlayson Map’, which can be dated by its watermark and the time of the Crawfurd Mission to between 1814 and 1822, purports to show a heavily defended Chiang Mai with two moats and three walls, while noting curiously that this is a map of the city ‘before the Inner Wall was removed’.

How can this be? At present we can only speculate. It might, perhaps, be that the map was originally drawn to enhance the appearance of the city’s defences, possibly to dismay potential Siamese attack. But by 1814 – the earliest date at which the map can have been drawn, given the paper’s watermark – Chiang Mai, while still ruled by the Lan Na chao, was already a loyal tributary of the Chakri Dynasty in Bangkok, so any such deception would have been pointless. It is also significant that all notes on the map (with the exception of the margin note in English) are very clearly written using the Central Thai alphabet and terminology, while Northern Thai remained very much the lingua franca and language of court usage at Chiang Mai for at least another half century. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that the map was prepared by a Central Thai, and not a Lan Na native.

A more detailed examination of the original map in its repository at the British Library in London may throw further light on its provenance, but for the present the ‘Finlayson Map’ remains – to borrow from Sir Winston Churchill: ‘A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ – rather like the triple-walled fortifications it so colourfully represents.

At the conclusion of a most entertaining and informative evening, the meeting adjourned to the Alliance Cafeteria where members of the audience engaged Andrew and David in more informal conversation over drinks and snacks.