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The Trai Phum

  • According to King Ruang the Trai Phum means Three Worlds. The three worlds are:
1.     The sensual world.
2.     The form world.
3.     The formless world.
  • When Marco Polo avoided the region en route to Europe from China, a booming civilization in Cambodia, based around Angkor, stretched through much of Thailand. Its sophisticated irrigation systems produced three rice harvests a year to feed over one million Cambodian people. The wonderful temple at Angkor was a century old. Grandness of Angkor was rivaled by that of Pagan. In the north of Thailand city-state of Chiang Mai was founded in 1296.
  • To examine early indigenous Southeast Asian maps, a map is defined as a spatial representation of a concept, actual or imagined, thing or place. A map can illuminate the relationship among different levels of desire or existence or between a future or previous age of the earth. A map need not even be of a material nature.
  • The Indian tradition was the vital influence on the Southeast Asian view of the place of the individual on earth before the arrival of Islam. This tradition placed the earth as a small part of a huge cosmos. When Buddhism took hold in Southeast Asia the importance of the nature of the cosmos increased further. Early Indian instructional texts, known as the Purana, were mainly devoted to the ambiguities of the creation of the universe.
  • Indian cosmogony proposed Creation as start with a formless seed material; the story of an egg, with its yolk encircled by embryonic fluid, was a natural and common expression of this thought. Ultimately, the fertile material became connected with the planets, stars as well as all other parts of Creation.
  • Indian-derived Southeast Asian thought proposed a huge cosmos with several universes. Earth and its universe were pivoted on Mount Sumeru in Central Asia or the Tibetan Himalayas. Continents, mountains and water developed from this mountain-axis. The continents were positioned symmetrically like concentric circles of interchanging continents and seas.
  • The earth was presumed to be flat throughout pre-modern Southeast Asia. Acceptance of the earth's roundness had to overcome religious oppositions, because writings in Buddhism had perceived contradictions to a spherical earth.
  • Astrology, together with mathematics and astronomy thrived in ancient Southeast Asia. The study of astrology and mathematics connected with cosmographic and celestial ideas. The numbers four, eight, sixteen, and thirty-two were believed to be attributes of Sumeru. Mathematical and Cosmological geography had effects in the actual political geography of some kingdoms. During the enthronement ceremonies in Thailand and Cambodia, the new king was surrounded by eight Brahmans.
  • Stories were suited to Southeast Asian cosmography. The residents of volcanically active Banda thought their archipelago was the horns of a great ox that created earthquakes when ox shook its head. Bali was believed to be on the back of a turtle that floated on the ocean.
  • To look at cosmological maps of Southeast Asia, one must take into account the status of mountains in way of life of Southeast Asians. Mountains were part of the area's spiritual landscape too. A king's sovereignty was linked with a mountain. Mountains could represent the lodging place of gods. This abode of gods is the axis around which everything is centred. There are 4 subordinate prangs around it on the quincunx. These mountains symbolize one of the 4 continents of the Great Ocean. Each continent consists of a big landmass and 500 smaller islands. Chomphu Thawip is the southern continent and is the land of human beings. Traditionally this is Indian Sub-continent. The other continents are inhabited by creatures which are similar to man.
  • Reverence for mountains was indigenous. Sumeru was the most famous spiritual mountain believed to be in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia or the Tibetan Himalayas.
  • In about the first century A.D., when Hinduism expanded through Southeast Asia, it imported Sumeru as well as other traditions regarding mountains. The Hindu god, Indra, was ruler of Sumeru, and lived in the mountain's peak. Siva was the 'Lord of the Mountain'. In Cambodia, the trust in Siva as a mountain deity existed as early as the 15th century.
  • According to a legend, Bali was originally a flat land. When Islam replaced Hinduism in Java, the Hindu gods needed mountains to be their new homes.