The Meaning of Lanna

The word Lanna is actually two words combined: “Lan” ล้าน, meaning a million and “Na” meaning rice field. Thus, Lanna literally translates to a million rice fields – a reference to the rich agriculture of the region encompassing the Golden Triangle area of present day Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, where the Lanna civilization and kingdom, or A-na-chak Lanna flourished over the centuries both as an autonomous and vassal state to Burmese, Thai, and Lao kingdoms. It was only until the early 20th century that Lanna was finally annexed once and for all by the Kingdom of Siam.

“Lanna” is often associated, referred to and described as “Northern Thai” traditions, customs, folk, art, music, and culture. Though sharing many parallels with the Siamese (Thai), Laotian, and even Burmese cultures, the Lanna civilization has harnessed a truly unique cultural character throughout more than a millennium of existence.

Today, remnants of Lanna culture, language, art, and identity are still strongly apparent in the people and way of life in Northern Thailand and northwest Laos, and though Lanna is no longer a powerful and influential kingdom as it once was, its legacy and heritage continues to prosper.