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The Paths Glossary is a directory of cultural, historical, and geographical terms and topics addressed within articles on this site.

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Achaemenid Empire
The first Persian Empire that lasted from 550 BC–330 BC, when it was conquered by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great.

A forest-dwelling sect in Thai Theravada Buddhism who are removed from the distractions of city life in order to better contemplate the Buddhist teachings.

ancestral houses
Large, intricately decorated wooden houses that housed multiple generations on Camiguin island.

ancient town 古鎮
A historical town in China that retains many of its pre-industrial characteristics.

Also called Yasodharapura. Capital of the Khmer Empire, located near modern day Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Angkor Thom
Walled city and final capital of the Khmer Empire built by Jayavarman VII.

Angkor Wat
Signature monument and Hindu temple mountain built by Khmer king Suryavarman II.

The belief that all living and nonliving things have a spirit

Anti-Japanese War
War taking place between 1937-1945, which overlapped with World War 2 in China, in which the Chinese Nationalist Government was fighting the occupying Japanese Empire.

Standardized hospital temple design built throughout the Khmer Empire by Jayavarman VII.

Ashoka Pillar
Pillars erected by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka throughout the Indian Subcontinent, which were inscribed with the merits of Buddhism.

A future compassionate Buddha incarnation meant to usher in enlightenment followers of the Mahayana Buddhist sect

City in central Thailand and historic capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which was succeeded by the Thonburi Kingdom in 1767.

Ayutthaya Kingdom
Thai kingdom based in central Thailand, later referred to as Siam. Its capital was the city of Ayutthaya until the city was destroyed by the Burmese, forcing the state of Siam to relocate to modern Bangkok and found the Thonburi Kingdom in 1767.


Thai word meaning house

Ethnic minority group centered in Yunnan, China.

Burmese city and capital city of the Pagan Kingdom from 1044-1297 CE

Ethnic group that makes up the majority of Myanmar’s population. Commonly known as Burmese.

Ban Chiang
The first advanced culture in Thailand based in Udon Thani Province, which mastered bronze working, rice cultivation, and elaborate pottery.

bang-bang man 棒棒军
Dock porter in Chongqing who uses a long bamboo stick to carry goods through the city’s steep landscape

Khmer monument commonly referred to as libraries and thought to house important documents, however, their true purpose is unknown.

An art style where surface material is removed to create an elevated image. It differs from a relief in that its features are shallower than the items it depicts.

Signature monument of Jayavarman VII standing at the center of Angkor Thom. The original name was Jayagiri (“Victory Monument”).

Bayon style
Khmer architectural style lasting from 1180-1230 and characterized by laterite construction, less intricate carvings, and Buddhist themes.

Bay of Bangkok
The narrow northern tip of the Gulf of Thailand which runs along the coast from Hua Hin to Rayong. In the past, the Bay of Bangkok extended much farther inland.

Bayon style
Khmer architectural style lasting from 1180-1230 and characterized by laterite construction, less intricate carvings, and Buddhist themes.

Local religion of the Bai people in which deified ancestors are worshipped.

Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX)
King of Thailand from 1946-2016.

Bo Ika Inscription
Sandstone tablet inscribed with Khmer and Sanskrit languages describing a kingdom outside of the Angkorian territory called Sri Canasa.

A being in Buddhism who has achieved enlightenment, but puts off nirvana in order to help others achieve enlightenment

Borommarachathirat II
King of Ayutthaya from 1424–1448.

Hindu creator god and member of the Trimurti.

Bo 僰人
An ethnic group that once inhabited southwestern China. They were exterminated by the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s, leaving little knowledge of their culture or language behind.

Dharmic religion centered on the belief of karma and release from the cycle of reincarnation. Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.

Bueng Kan
Province in Thailand created in 2011 from the eastern areas of Nong Khai Province.


Legendary Lavo princess and first ruler of Hariphunchai who brought Buddhism and Dvaravati culture to northern Thailand.

Volcanic island in the Mindanao group of the Philippines.

Prayer hall in Dharmic religions, primarily in Buddhism.

Austronesian ethnic group native to Southeast Asia that once controlled the Hindu Champa civilization in the region of modern Vietnam. Today, the Cham people are a minority in Vietnam and largely practice Islam.

An Indianized Hindu kingdom in ancient Vietnam known for constructing Tháp Chàm, their iconic Cham Towers dedicated to Shiva and other Hindu deities.

Cham Tower
Hindu monument built by the Cham people of ancient Vietnam.

Chaotianmen 朝天门
“Morning Sky Gate” located at the tip of Chongqing’s Yuzhong Peninsula where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet. It still serves as the city’s main commercial docks for Yangtze River cruises.

Thai word meaning “stupa”

Chenla Kingdom
Early period (6th-9th Centuries CE) of independent Khmer states before being united into the Khmer Empire by Jayavarman II.

Chiang Mai
City in northern Thailand and historic capital of the Lanna Kingdom founded by King Mangrai in 1296.

Chiang Rai
City in northern Thailand founded by the Lanna king Mangrai in 1262 CE.

Chiang Saen
City in northern Thailand and historic capital of the Ngoenyang Kingdom until the establishment of its successor, the Lanna Kingdom, in 1293 CE.

Chongqing 重庆
City in southwest China known for its mountainous landscape and spicy food.

Monotheistic offshoot of Judaism founded in the 1st Century CE and based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Chulalongkorn (King Rama V)
King of Thailand (Siam) from 1868-1910.

city pillar shrine
Shrine devoted to a city spirit deity where offerings are made for a city’s prosperity

Indigenous Chinese religion promoting ancestor worship, filial piety, and duty to the state.

A projected decorative rim surrounding an architectural feature, just as a corner, ceiling, or door, or where elements like these intersect.


Historic town in southwestern China which was historic capital of the Dali Kingdom.

Indigenous Chinese religion promoting detachment and non-purposeful action.

Supernatural or god-like being in Hindu-Buddhist traditions

Southeast Asian “God-king” who was imbued with the divine right to rule the earthly realm.

“Fire house” temple design built along the Khmer Empire’s Angkor-Phimai road by Jayavarman VII.

The first capital city of Rakhine. While tradition places its founding around 3000 BCE, archaeologists date it to the early 1st Millennium CE.

Dharmasala Route
Important road from Angkor to Phimai and lined with 17 dharmasalas.

Harappan coastal city located in western Gujarat, India that was home to a complex water reservoir system.

Doi Suthep (ดอยสุเทพ)
Revered mountain on the western edge of Chiang Mai. The mountain peak has been used by both the Hariphunchai and Lanna Kingdoms to house sacred Buddhist relic temples.

Guardian spirits meant to protect the tenets of Buddhism

Mon-Burmese ethnic group based in modern Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Responsible for the introduction of Buddhism (Theravada sect) to Thailand.

A pilgrimage site in Gujarat Province that is associated with the legendary Dwarka Kingdom. Traces of underwater ruins have been reported off the coast.


Emerald Buddha
Common English name of Phra Kaew Morakot, a legendary Buddha images which is currently housed in Bangkok after changing hands through several empires.


Massive ship used for transporting goods. Compared to a normal train car, a 1000-foot Great Lakes freighter can carry up to 40,000 tons.

Funan Kingdom
Early mainland Southeast Asian culture (1st-6th Centuries CE) which grew along the Mekong Delta coast with influence from the China-India maritime trades routes. Funan was among the first regional cultures to adopt an Indianized society .


Elephant-headed Hindu god who embodies prosperity and removal of obstacles.

Ganesh Chaturthi
Hindu festival celebrating the descent of Ganesh from Mount Kailash.

A humanoid bird associated with the Hindu god Vishnu as his divine mount or vehicle.

A decorative arch placed above the doors of early rock-cut religious buildings that later became a part of more general architecture.

ghost town
A town nearly or entirely abandoned.

A gate-tower that serves as the entrance to an important structure in Hindu-Buddhist architecture

Grand Palace
Political and religious complex in Bangkok’s historic city center that served as the home of Thailand’s king.

Great Lakes
Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario located in North America along the U.S.-Canada border. Collectively these lakes hold 21% of the world’s fresh water.

Great Vesali Image
Rakhine Buddha image located in Vesali, Myanmar.

Great Wall 万里长城
Fortifications and defensive barriers built along China’s northern border beginning in the Warring States Period and continuing through the Ming dynasty.


Han dynasty 汉朝
The ruling dynasty of China from 202 BCE – 220 CE. Han doctrine was characterized by economic prosperity through outside trade via the Silk Road creating the earliest sense of a single Chinese “Han” identity.

Hanging Coffins 悬棺
A burial custom of the Bo people in which wooden coffins were suspended from sheer cliff sides by still inconclusive methods.

The first city of the Indus Valley (Harappan) Civilization that was excavated in the 1920s, located in modern Pakistan.

Ancient name of Lamphun, Thailand and the historic capital of the Dvaravati Hariphunchai Kingdom.

Hariphunchai Kingdom
Dvaravati kingdom in northern Thailand (c. 750 – 1292 CE) centered in the modern town of Lamphun. Eventually conquered by the Lanna Kingdom.

Helan Mountains 贺兰山 
Small mountain range between the Tengger Desert and the Yellow River in China’s Ningxia province.

Hexi Corridor 河西走廊
A narrow geographic region between the Gobi Desert and the Tibetan Plateau in western China that was an important path on the Chinese end of the Silk Road. The Han dynasty secured and fortified the Hexi Corridor, allowing trade caravans to become more common.

Hinayana Buddhism
“The Lesser Vehicle” branch of Buddhism which draws its teachings from the Pali Canon. This sect is popular in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Also known as Theravada Buddhism or “The “Doctrine of the Elders”.

Dharmic religion centered on the belief of karma and release from the cycle of reincarnation. It stems from Vedic teachings and one of the oldest extant religions in the world.

hot pot
A method of cooking by boiling meats and vegetables in a boiling soup at the table. Chongqing’s famous variation uses a spicy oil incorporating Sichuan peppers for a spicy, numbing taste.

The final imperial capital of Vietnam and the administrative center during its time as a French Colony.

Huiguorou 回鍋肉
“Twice-cooked pork”, a cuisine from southwestern China

huŏguō 火鍋
The Chinese name for hot pot

Hu Xia dynasty 胡夏朝
Name given to the ruling dynasty (407-431 CE) by the Chinese to the settled Xiongnu (Huns) who inhabited Tongwancheng. Also known as the Da Xia (大夏), Northern Xia (北夏), and Helian Xia (赫連夏).


A culture adopting Indian culture, religion, and social structures.

Sky god and king of the devas in Hindu mythology

The northernmost region of the Champa Kingdom and name of the capital city 

Indravarman II
Cham king from 854-893 CE and founder Champas 6th Dynasty (Indrapura Dyansty) with his capital at Indrapura (modern Dong Duong, Vietnam). Indravarman II also established a renowned Buddhist monastery at Dong Duong

Indus River
Major river running through modern India and Pakistan and one of the major water sources of the ancient Harappan Civilization

Indus River (Harappan) Civilization
One of the world’s 6 cradles of civilization which existed from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE in the Indus and ancestral Ghaggar-Hakra River Valleys of modern India and Pakistan.

Inner Mongolia 内蒙古
Province in the north of China designated as an autonomous Mongolian region. The territory is made up primarily of steppe and the Gobi Desert.

Common name for the northeastern region of Thailand.

Monotheistic offshoot of Judaism founded in the 7th Century CE and based on the teachings of Mohammad.


Dharmic religion centered on shedding karma to gain release from the cycle of reincarnation. Based on the teachings of the Tirthankaras, most notably Mahavira (599-527 BCE).

Jayavarman VII
Mahayana Buddhist king of the Khmer Empire from 1181–1218 who conquered Champa, built Angkor Thom, and initiated massive engineering projects to rebuild the kingdom.

Catholic order of Christian monks who engaged in educational and missionary works during colonial times.

Jurchen people
An ethnic group from Northeastern China that would later become known as Machus or Manchurians. They are most well known for forming the Jin (1115-1234 CE) and Qing (1636-1912 CE) dynasties.


Cham word for their brick tower sanctuaries that housed shrines to various deities, chiefly Shiva. The structure of the kalan represents a microcosm of the Hindu metaphysical realm, with the base of the tower representing the physical world, the tower’s body representing the heavenly realm, and the pyramidal design at the top representing Mount Meru

Kamphaeng Phet
City in Central Thailand and historically part of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Lanna prince who led successful campaigns against Burmese domination, liberating Chiang Saen. He led the rebuilding of Chiang Mai after becoming governor of Lampang under the Rattanakosin Kingdom.

City in northeastern Myanmar which was historically part of the Lanna Kingdom.

Austroasiatic ethnic group native to Southeast Asia and the majority inhabitants of the modern nation of Cambodia.

Khmer Empire
Hindu-Buddhist kingdom that ruled much of Southeast Asia from their capital at Angkor.

Khu Bua
Dvaravati city outside of modern Ratchaburi.

Common name in Thailand for an ancient stone tower. Often used interchangeably with, or in combination with, prang, prasat, or chedi.

Lanna king from 1355-1385 CE. He expanded the Lanna domain to its largest extent and founded the Lankawong school of Buddhism in Lanna.

The modern capital city of Yunnan Province.


Lake Superior
The largest and deepest of the Great Lakes.

Laksmindra Lôkesvara
A syncretic manifestation of Avalokiteshvara that incorporates aspects of the Hindu thunder god, Indra

City in northern Thailand historically known as Khelang Nakhon. Founded by the Hariphunchai Kingdom to control the Wang River Basin, the city was later absorbed by the Lanna Kingdom.

City in northern Thailand and the historic capital of the Hariphunchai Kingdom.

A sect of Theravada Buddhism based on Sri Lankan teachings.

Lanna Kingdom
Thai kingdom based in northern Thailand and northwestern Laos. Its capitals included Chiang Rai, Wiang Kum Kam, and Chiang Mai.

Red clay-like soil which hardens when dry and is used in many types of construction.

Lavo Kingdom
Dvaravati kingdom in central Thailand centered in the modern town of Lopburi. Eventually conquered by the Khmer Empire.

Ethnic minority group who constructed three walled cities in the Chiang Mai valley: Wiang Nopburi, Wiang Ched Lin, and Wiang Suan Dok. They are also referenced in historic writings as Lua, Milukku, Tamilla, and La.

A philosophy from ancient China centered on the belief that people are inherently bad and that harsh laws must be put in place to ensure society runs properly. It was adopted by the Qin dynasty as their driving philosophy.

Lianglukou 两路口
Subway station in central Chongqing where lines 1 and 6 meet.

A domed pillar made of stone and representing a phallus, crafted to worship and symbolize the Hindu god, Shiva.

Guardians of the cardinal directions in Hindu mythology

City in central Thailand and historic capital of the Lavo Kingdom founded by the Dvaravati culture. It was subsequently ruled by the Khmer Empire and the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Harappan coastal city located in western Gujarat, India that was home to the world’s first recognized shipping docks.

Common local name for the Lawa people of northern Thailand. Not to be confused with the Lua people of Laos.

Luobiao 洛表
Small town in southern Sichuan province where the largest concentrations of Bo hanging coffins are located.


Mahabodhi Temple
Ancient Buddhist temple located in Gaya, India built on the location where the Gautama Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

Maha Gandha bronze bell 
Massive bronze bell stolen by the British but lost to the Irrawaddy River.

Mahamuni Image
Rakhine Buddha originally from Dhanyawadi, taken by conquering Burmese and relocated to Mandalay.

Mahamuni Temple (Dhanyawadi)
Ancient temple in Dhanyawadi that once housed the Mahamune Image.

Mahamuni Temple (Mandalay)
Temple in modern Mandalay that now houses the Mahamune Image.

Mahayana Buddhism
A sect of Buddhism focused on the reverence of bodhisattvas.

Mythological sea creature in Hinduism often depicted as a crocodile with land animal (deer or elephant) features. Commonly used as a decoration on Hindu and Buddhist temples

Political system found in historic Southeast Asia in which tributary states surrounded a central power without being directly administered by them.

A hall or gathering area inside a Hindu temple’s gates leading to the inner temple sanctuary

Mandate of Heaven 天命
The Chinese belief that the rulers are chosen by Heaven due to their righteousness. If a ruler becomes unworthy, Heaven would show signs through natural disasters and the rulers would be overthrown. 

Final ruler of the Ngoenyang Kingdom (Chiang Saen) and founder of the Lanna Kingdom from 1291-1311 who established Wiang Kum Kam in 1286 and its successor Chiang Mai in 1293.

Maurya Empire
The first political state (321 – 185 BCE) that attempted to unify India.

A large building or construction containing one or several tombs.

Harappan city located in central Pakistan that has produced some of the earliest cultural artifacts.

Mekong Delta
Low-lying river delta making up much of southern Vietnam where the Mekong River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Mekong River
The world’s 12th longest river, which flows from the Himalayas through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vetnam, into the Pacific Ocean.

One of the world’s 6 cradles of civilization which existed from 4500 BCE to 1900 BCE in modern Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

U.S. State bordering Canada and 4 of the 5 Great Lakes.

The southern island group of the Philippines

Ming dynasty 大明
The ruling dynasty of China from 1368-1644 CE. Ming doctrine was characterized by isolationist policies and focus on internal matters and expansion.

Mohenjo Daro
The largest city of the Indus Valley (Harappan) Civilization that was excavated in the 1920s, located in modern Pakistan. Home to the monumental Great Bath and potentially the Harappan capital or power center.

Ethnic group originating in Myanmar who established the first civilizations in modern Thailand. The Mon kingdoms in Thailand are collectively referred to at Dvaravati.

Mongkut (King Rama IV)
King of Thailand (Siam) from 1851-1868.

Mongol Empire
The largest contiguous empire in human history founded by the conquests of Genghis Khan in 1206.  1294. By its end in 1294, the Mongol Empire had broken into 4 political entities: the Yuan dynasty, the Chagatai Khanate, the Ilkhanate, and the Golden Horde.

Nomadic ethnic group native to the steppe north of China

Mount Kailash
A mountain in southwestern Tibet considered the dwelling place of Shiva and associated with Mt. Meru in Hindu-Buddhist traditions.

Mount Meru
The metaphysical mountain said to represent the structure of the universe in Hindu-Buddhist cosmology.

Mrauk U
Final capital of the independent Rakhine kingdom from 1430-1785 CE.

Muang Sema
Abandoned Dvaravati city in modern Nakhon Ratchasima Province. The Muang Sema ruins contain both Dvaravati Buddhist and Khmer Hindu temples.

Muang Sing
Walled Angkorian city on the western edge of ancient Khmer territory, near the Burmese border of of modern Thailand.


Mythological serpents in Hindu-Buddhist tradition said to possess divine powers.

Nakhon Pathom
A large, moated settlement of the Mon-Dvaravati culture which existed from c. 500-1000 CE. Also known as Nakhon Chai Si.  

Nakhon Si Thammarat
City in southern Thailand and the historic capital of Tambralinga.

A bull associated with the Hindu god Shiva as his divine mount or vehicle.

Nestorian Christianity
Sect of Christianity believing in a dualistic nature of Jesus Christ and was prevalent in the former Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire.

Ngoenyang Kingdom
Tai kingdom based in Chiang Saen, which was succeeded by the Lanna Kingdom after the establishment of Chiang Mai

Ningxia 宁夏
Province in the north of China designated as an autonomous Hui ethnic region. The territory is made up primarily of the arid Yellow River valley and surrounded by the Helan Mountains.

Nong Khai
Province in northeastern Thailand that holds the busiest border with Laos.

Northern Wei dynasty 北魏
Ruling dynasty of Northern China (386-534 CE) established by the Xianbei people. The Northern Wei rulers were responsible for commissioning many of the famous rock-cut Buddhist temples in Northern China.


Oc Eo
An ancient port city of the Funan culture located in the Mekong Delta, modern-day Vietnam.

Most populous Canadian Province bordering the United States and 4 of the 5 Great Lakes.


Pagan Kingdom
Burmese empire that controlled Myanmar from 1044-1297 CE

City in southern Sumatra, Indonesia and historic capital of the Srivijaya Empire founded in 671 CE.

Parmentier, Henri
A French researcher who documented many of the first excavations and surveys of ancient Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the early 1900s (then French Indochina).

pastoral region
An area under the oversight of a Catholic Archdiocese.

People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
The military operated by the ruling Communist Party of China and, by extension, the Chinese national government. It serves as the principal military force of China.

Perfume River
River that flows through the historic Vietnamese capital of Huế.

City in northern Thailand and historic center of the Phayao Kingdom before becoming part of the Lanna Kingdom.

Walled city of the Khmer Empire dating back to at least the 600s CE. The city stood at the end of the important Angkorian Dhammasala Route.

Phi Pan Nam Range
Small mountain range between Lampang and Sukhothai provinces in Thailand.

Phra Kaew Morakot
The legendary “Emerald Buddha” image carved from a single piece of jade which is currently housed in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew.

Phra Pathom Chedi
Buddhist stupa in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand which originated as a Dvaravati temple and claims to be the largest in the world.

Phra Phrom
Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma.

phra that
Common term in Thai temple names meaning “Buddha relic”, referencing the temple supposedly housing a relic of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Also spelled “phrathat”.

Phra Saenswae
Cast bronze Buddha image from the Lanna Kingdom.

A projecting vertical wall decoration or support that resembles a rectangular pillar but is built into the wall. 

A Khmer Hindu tower representing Mount Meru and taking the form of a lotus bud. Thai architecture later adopted the design into their Buddhist temples.

Thai and Khmer word meaning “castle”, “tower”, or “temple” most often used in reference to Khmer stone prangs and ruins, and occasionally for Thai brick stupas.

Pyu Kingdoms
Early collection of Buddhist city-states in central Myanmar during the First Millennium CE.


Qin dynasty 秦朝
Chinese dynasty established in 221 BCE by Qin Shi Huang after conquering and united all rival Chinese states. Modern China derives its name from this dynasty, which is significant for being the first unified Chinese state. The Qin dynasty lasted until 206 BCE and was soon succeeded by the Han dynasty.

Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇
The “First Emperor” of China who created the Qin dynasty by conquering all rival Chinese states and unifying China for the first time in 221 BCE.

Qin state
One of the Chinese Warring States that lasted from ~9th Century BCE to 221 BCE, when it conquered the rival states and was declared the Qin Empire.


Rakhine Kingdom
Independent kingdom located in the Kaladin-Lemro River Valleys of Western Myanmar.

Rakhine State
Modern state located in Western Myanmar.

Legendary king of Sukhothai who is popularly credited with creating the Thai writing system.

Ramkhamhaeng Inscription
Inscription discovered by King Mongkut at Sukhothai which is allegedly the first instance of Thai writing created by Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai.

rammed earth
A construction technique of compacting and compressing dirt into solid walls, floors, and building foundations.

Rattanakosin Kingdom
Thai kingdom and successor to the Thonburi Kingdom. Based in Bangkok and founded in 1782, the Rattanakosin era lasted until 1932, when political reforms transformed the kingdom into the modern nation of Thailand.

French order of Franciscan Christian monks who took a vow of poverty to pursue a life of spiritual reflection.

The residential building provided by a church for its minister or priest.

rock-cut architecture
A building technique of carving and removing stone from existing rock landscapes to create buildings.

Roman Catholic Church
The largest branch of Christianity, established in the 3rd-4th Century CE and based in Vatican City.


Saint Lawrence Seaway
Waterway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

Saint Mary’s River
River connecting Lake Superior to Lake Huron and the St Lawrence Seaway.

San Kamphaeng Kilns
Lanna-era pottery kilns located east of the city of Chiang Mai.

San Ku
Ruined Buddhist temple atop Doi Pui dating from the Hariphunchai Period.

Sathmahal Prasada
A 7-leveled pyramidal stupa from Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Its unique design appears to have influenced the architecture of several ancient Thailand kingdoms.

Sault Ste. Marie
French settlement along the St. Mary’s River which served as an important trading post. Known locally as “The Soo”.

Shakyamuni Buddha
An epithet of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, derived from his origins in the Shakya clan of northern India

Shaanxi 陕西
Province in northern China that has historically served as the capital and heartland of most of China’s dynasties.

Shancheng 山城
“Mountain City”, a popular nickname for the Chinese city of Chongqing.

Legendary mountain paradise first mentioned in James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon.

Hindu destroyer god and member of the Trimurti.

Shwedagon Pagoda
Buddhist stupa in Yangon, Myanmar that claims to be the largest in the world.

The unified Thai state that began in the Ayutthaya Kingdom and continued through the Rattanakosin Kingdom into modern Thailand.

Sichuan 四川
Province in southwestern China made up of mountains, river valleys, and sections of the Tibetan Plateau.

Siddhartha Gautama
A legendary prince born in Lumphini, Nepal who would go on to found Buddhism. Known generally as the “Buddha”.

Silk Road
A vast trade network connecting China to India, the Middle East, and Europe through Central Asia that was responsible for the intercultural spread of goods and ideas. Although trade began along these routes prior to the Qin dynasty, it began flourishing during the Han dynasty when they secured the Hexi Corridor.

Si Thep
Dvaravati city in Phetchabun Province that was later occupied by the Khmer Empire.

Capital city of Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Soo Locks
Artificial locks built in first built in 1855 to facilitate safe passage between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes.

Sri Canasa
A polity referred to in the Bo Ika Inscription discovered at Muang Sema.

Empire based in Sumatra which controlled or influenced Buch of the Malay archipelago circa 600-1200 CE.

The grassy flatland that makes up Central Asia to the north and west of China.

Strait of Malacca
Narrow waterway between Sumatra and the Malaysian Peninsula that has been one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world throughout history.

Buddhist monument used to enshrine sacred relics or memorialize important figures. Its dome, bell, or otherwise tower-like appearance is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain said to represent the structure of the universe in Hindu-Buddhist cosmology.

City in central-northern Thailand and abandoned capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Sukhothai Kingdom
Thai kingdom based in central-northern Thailand, after the overthrow of Khmer rules. Its capital was the city of Sukhothai, which was later conquered and absorbed by the Ayutthaya Empire.

Sri Lankan monk who resided in Sukhothai before being invited to Chiang Mai by King Kuena, He gifted the Lanna King a Buddha relic which is now housed at Wat Suan Dok and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.


Tai peoples
Ethnic group originating in Southern China that migrated south during the Mongol invasions, eventually founding the kingdoms hat became Thailand and Laos.

Ta Prohm
13th-Century Khmer Buddhist temple built by Jayavarman VII in honor of his mother. Popularized by the film “Tomb Raider”.

Tang dynasty
The ruling dynasty of China from 618-907 CE, which embraced trade with the outside world and was accepting of foreign ideologies.

Tengger Desert 腾格里沙漠
A very dry desert located primarily in China’s Inner Mongolia province.

Terracotta Army
A buried army of ceramic soldiers, horses, and chariots excavated near the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang.

Theravada Buddhism
“The “Doctrine of the Elders” branch of Buddhism which draws its teachings from the Pali Canon. This sect is popular in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Also known as Hinayana Buddhism or “The Lesser Vehicle”.

A maritime society that uses its navy to project power.

Thonburi Kingdom
The historic successor of the Ayutthaya Kingdom founded in 1767 in modern Bangkok. It was succeeded by the Rattanakosin Kingdom in 1782.

Three Pagoda Pass
Mountain pass in western Kanchanaburi Province linking Thailand and Myanmar. 

Lanna king from 1441-1487. An ardent patron of Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhism, he renovated many temples and artworks during his reign.

Toungoo dynasty
The ruling dynasty of Myanmar from 1510–1752. It waged wars with and conquered several surrounding kingdoms, including Siam, Lanna, and Lan Xang.

The Hindu trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.

Tự Đức
Emperor of Vietnam from 1847-1883.

Motorized rickshaw commonly used as a taxi in Southeast Asian countries.


The ordination hall of a Buddhist temple.

Upper Peninsula
The northern peninsula of Michigan.

U Thong
The first settlement of the Mon-Dvaravati culture which existed from c. 500-1000 CE. Also known as Nakhon Chai Si.  


Vajrayana Buddhism
Sect of Buddhism that embraces tantric practices and mysticism.

Second capital of the Rakhine kingdom from ~6th-10th Centuries CE.

Vietnam War
A conflict occurring between South Vietnam and North Vietnam from 1955-1975. The United States entered the war in 1965 as per the Truman Doctrine to contain the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese army declared victory after the withdrawal of the United States in 1975.

Buddhist monastery that includes living quarters, study halls, and prayer halls.

The main worship hall in a Buddhist temple.

Hindu preserver god and member of the Trimurti.


Warring States Period 战国时代
A period preceding the Qin dynasty (c. 475 to 221 BCE) that saw many rival kingdoms throughout China.

Fabled Lawa hermit monk who is said to have founded Wiang Misankorn and Hariphunchai, and invited Camadevi to rule Hariphunchai.

Thai word meaning “temple”

Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram
Temple in Bangkok famously known as the Marble Temple.

Wat Chammathewi
Iconic square-based stupa from the Hariphunchai Kingdom (modern Lamphun) which influenced many other similar stupas in Thailand. Also known as Wat Ku Kut.

Wat Jed Yod
A sprawling temple complex in Chiang Mai built in 1455 CE by Lanna King Tilokarat to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Buddhism.

Wat Pa Daeng
Temple in the west of Chiang Mai established by monks of the New Lankawong school of Buddhism.

Wat Phra Kaew
Common name of Wat Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, known in English as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and part of the Grand Palace complex.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Sacred mountaintop temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand which is said to house a Buddha relic brought by the Sri Lanka Monk Sumanathera.

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai Worawiharn
The central temple of Lamphun founded by the Hariphunchai king Athitayarat in the 1150s CE to enshrine relics supposedly originatting from Siddhartha’s ancient visit to northern Thailand.

Wat Suan Dok
“Flower Garden Temple”, a historic temple west of Chiang Mai built to by King Kue Na to house the Buddhist Relic from the Sri Lankan monk Sumanathera.

Wat Umong
Iconic “tunnel temple” located in the forests west of Chiang Mai. Built in the 14th Century.

Wat Yang Kuang
Temple in Chiang Mai where 500-year-old ruins were discovered under the existing buildings.

Lanna Thai word for “walled city”

Wiang Chet Lin
Fortification built by Lanna King Sam Fangkaen over the ruins of Wiang Misankorn.

Wiang Misankorn
Lawa city at the base of Doi Suthep founded before the Hariphunchai Period. Later renovated into Wiang Chet Lin during the Lanna Period.

Wiang Kum Kam
The first city established by the Lanna Kingdom in the Chiang Mai valley. Abandoned after successive years of flooding to establish Chiang Mai.

Wiang Nopburi
Abandoned Lawa walled city used as a based from which to build Chiang Mai. Located in the northwest corner of Chiang Mai’s Old City in the current location of Wat Chiang Man.

Wiang Suan Dok
Abandoned Lawa walled city used by Lanna royalty as a garden. In 1371, Wat Suan Dok was established in the center of Wiang Suan Dok.

Wiang Tha Kan
A satellite city of Hariphunchai later occupied and expanded by the Lana Kingdom.

Legendary ruler of the Lawa people who waged war on Hariphunchai with 80,000 men after being rejected by Camadevi.

World War II
Major war taking place between 1939-1945 involving countries around the world.


xiānghuǒ qián 香火钱
Literally “incense money” whereby monetary offerings are made at temples and other sacred sites in order to gain supernatural blessings from ancestors or the Buddha. 

spread of goods and ideas. Although trade began along these routes prior to the Qin dynasty, it began flourishing during the Han dynasty when they secured the Hexi Corridor.

Xiongnu 匈奴
Nomadic ethnic group originating from the steppes along the northwestern border of China, and presumed to be the ancestors of the Huns. The Xiongnu raided the Chinese borders and trade routes along the early Silk Road.

Xi Xia 西夏
A Tangut kingdom located in northwestern China from 1038–1227 CE notable for its beehive-pyramidal royal tombs. In 1227, they were exterminated by the Mongol Empire for refusing tribute to Genghis Khan. Also known as the Tangut Empire or Western Xia dynasty. 


Spirits in Hindu-Buddhist tradition which are often employed as guardians and seen as statues protecting important religious buildings.

Yangtze River
Major river through China beginning in Sichuan province and flowing eastward until it empties into the Pacific Ocean near Shanghai.

Also called Angkor. Capital of the Khmer Empire, located near modern day Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Yibin 宜宾
A large district located in southern Sichuan province.

Endonym for people inhabiting the Upper Peninsula (U.P) of Michigan.

Yuan dynasty 大元
The ruling dynasty of China from 1271-1368 CE. Yuan was founded after the Mongol conquest of China and continued expansion of their territory.

Yunnan 云南
Province in southwestern China consisting of many ethnic minorities, with landscapes ranging from jungles to snow-capped mountains.

Yuzhong 渝中
The central and most historic district of Chongqing


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