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

A

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

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

B

baan
Thai world meaning house

Bai
Ethnic minority group centered in Yunnan, China.

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

bas-relief
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.

Benzhuism
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.

Brahma
Hindu creator god and member of the Trimurti.

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

C

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

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

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.

chedi
Thai word meaning “stupa”

Chiang Mai
City in northern Thailand and historic capital of the Lanna Kingdom founded by King Mengrai in 1293.

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

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

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

D

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

Daoism
Indigenous Chinese religion promoting detachment and non-purposeful action.

Doi Suthep
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.

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

E

F

freighter
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.

G

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

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

ghost town
A town nearly or entirely abandoned.

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.

H

Hariphunchai
Dvaravati kingdom in northern Thailand centered in the modern town of Lamphun. Eventually conquered by the Lanna Kingdom.

Hinduism
Dharmic religion centered on the the belief of karma and release from the cycle of reincarnation. 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.

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

huŏguō (火鍋)
The Chinese name for hot pot

I

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

J

K

Kawila
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.

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

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

Kunming
The modern capital city of Yunnan Province.

L

Lake Superior
The largest and deepest of the Great Lakes.

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

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

Lawa
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.

Lopburi
City in northern 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.

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

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

M

Mangrai
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.

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

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

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.

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

N

Nakhon Ratchasima
City established in 1656 by the Ayutthaya Empire as a frontier outpost to fortify their control in the area.

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

O

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

P

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

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

Phimai
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.

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 Phrom
Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma.

Phra Saenswae
Cast bronze Buddha image from the Lanna Kingdom.

Q

R

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.

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

S

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 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”.

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

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

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.

stupa
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.

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

T

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

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.

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

Tilokaraj
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.

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

Tự Đức
Emperor of Vietnam from 1847-1883.

U

ubosot
The primary hall of worship in a Buddhist temple.

Upper Peninsula
The northern peninsula of Michigan.

V

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

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.

viharn
The main worship hall in a Buddhist temple.

W

wat
Thai word meaning “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 Pa Daeng
Temple in the west of Chiang Mai established by monks of the New Lankawong school of Buddhism.

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

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

wiang
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.

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.

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

X

Y

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

Yuzhong (渝中)
The central and most historic district of Chongqing

Z