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


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.

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.

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.

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


Thai world meaning house

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

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.

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.

Borommarachathirat II
King of Ayutthaya from 1424–1448.

Hindu creator god and member of the Trimurti.

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


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

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.

Thai word meaning “stupa”

Chenla Period
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 Mengrai in 1293.

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.

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


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

Indigenous Chinese religion promoting detachment and non-purposeful action.

Southeast “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.

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

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.

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


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.


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.

Entrance building to an important structure.

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.


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

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.

huŏguō (火鍋)
The Chinese name for hot pot


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

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.


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.


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.

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

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

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

The modern capital city of Yunnan Province.


Lake Superior
The largest and deepest of the Great Lakes.

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.

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.

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


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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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.

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.

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.



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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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

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.


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.

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.


The primary hall of worship in a Buddhist temple.

Upper Peninsula
The northern peninsula of Michigan.


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.

The main worship hall in a Buddhist temple.


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 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 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.

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.

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



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

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