On our way to Nan we visited a Thai Lue village at Ban Nong Bua that has another Wat with murals by the same artists. Here the political commentary was less subtle, such as monkeys having sex on the colors of the French flag.
Ruth: This morning we visited Wat Phumin, Northern Thailand’s Sistine Chapel. The temple was built in 1596, but it was during it’s restoration in the late 19th century that Thai Lue artists painted the now famous murals. These murals are noteworthy not only for their Buddhist content and their depictions of daily life but also for their political and social commentary from the Thai Lue perspective. They were painted just after Eastern Nan had been given to the French and references to this can be seen in the paintings.
The Thai Lue were originally from Yunnan province in China where they had an independent kingdom from the 12th century until the end of the Second World War when many fled from the communist revolution. They are famous for their fine quality weaving which is still being produced by many women in their villages. We visited a weaving cooperative where they make beautiful fabric in a manner unchanged from that depicted in the murals.
Nan is great, and although Thai tourists have discovered it, the town still feels like it is off the beaten track. We are enjoying our lovely guesthouse and the good food available, including numerous bakeries!