Chiang Mai – crossroads of cultures

Dragons in Thai culture as in many Asian cultures has magical or, supernatural powers.it often protects temples, bring water and is often associated with wisdom and longevity.
Dragons in Thai culture as in many Asian cultures has magical or, supernatural powers.it often protects temples, bring water and is often associated with wisdom and longevity.

Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand (localized, but in Western alphabet it is one word – “Chiangmai”. In Thai it is “เชียงใหม่”) , this region is a part of Thailand that gets its influences from many different countries and cultures. It is close to the border with Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos. China is not very far away either, but Thailand has no direct border with China. The development of the region centered on the rivers and the river valleys that cut through the mountains of the region. The climate is tropical and due to the higher elevation it has more pronounced seasonal differences in temperature as compared to lower lying areas.

Outlying parts of Chiang Mai as seen from the air.
Outlying parts of Chiang Mai as seen from the air.
 Chiang Mai airport designation - CNX - with the terminal building as seen from the tarmac.
Chiang Mai airport designation – CNX – with the terminal building as seen from the tarmac.
Typical Chiang Mai building, I believe it is an administrative building or maybe a school.
Typical Chiang Mai building, I believe it is an administrative building or maybe a school.
The wall around old town Chiang Mai still stands in places.
The wall around old town Chiang Mai still stands in places.
Headed for the bike mountain in China?
Headed for the bike mountain in China?
Lanna Folklife museum is housed in a former courthouse, it is a colonial style building.
Lanna Folklife museum is housed in a former courthouse, it is a colonial style building.
Here is a diorama in the museum depicting an early settlement in the area.
Here is a diorama in the museum depicting an early settlement in the area.
Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center.
Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center.

Across the street from the Lanna folklife museum is the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center. Here you can learn about Thai customs and symbolism, in particular as it pertains to this area of Thailand.

Here is a closer look at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center.
Here is a closer look at the front entrance to the Old Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center with the Three Kings monument.

The three kings monument is dedicated to the three Laotian kings, King Mengrai who is believed to have founded Chiang Mai in the 1400’s and his friends King Ramkamhaeng of Sukothai and King Ngam Muang of Payao. Legend has it that the three kings worked together to lay out the city of Chiang Mai and also entered into a pact for the defense of the city. Here you can find out more about the last king of Laos.

A river runs through the city of Chiang Mai.
A river runs through the city of Chiang Mai.

Linnaeus Hammarby – home of the latin name designator of all plants, animals and minerals

Images of Linné from one of the houses on the property.
Images of Linné from one of the houses on the property.

Carl von Linné (May 23 1707 – January 10 1778) was Carl Linnaeus name after his ennoblement. He was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who formalized the naming system of organisms – called the binomial nomenclature. The binomial nomenclature is a latin or latinized name of the organism. It consist of two parts, the first part indicates the genus and the second part is the specific name. Carl von Linné did his work at Uppsala University.  He was in fact a multitalented and multifaceted human being as a whole and way ahead of his time. Here are some images from a recent visit to his beloved estate Hammarby. It is located a bit outside the city of Uppsala just to the north of Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden.

Linné's Hammarby main house with the entryway.
Linné’s Hammarby main house with the entryway.
Painted Lady (Lathyrus odoratus) in Carl von Linné's garden.
Painted Lady in Carl von Linné’s garden. Lathyrus odoratus – was the name given to this plant by Linné in 1753.
I believe this is a plant named Dianthus carthusianorum L. or in English - Carthusian Pink, Clusterhead.
I believe this is a plant named Dianthus carthusianorum L. or in English – Carthusian Pink, Clusterhead.
This is a house added to the property in the 1800's for keeping a soldier on the estate. This was an old tradition dating back to the 1500’s. It required all farms to house and feed a soldier to provide the military with soldiers.
This is a house added to the property in the 1800’s for keeping a soldier on the estate. This was an old tradition dating back to the 1500’s. It required all farms to house and feed a soldier to provide the military with soldiers.
Vegetables being grown at the soldier house.
Vegetables being grown at the soldier house.
Linné liked beer, thus he had a hop garden on the property, this is a recent recreation of that hop garden. The name designated to hops by Linné was "Humulus lupulus".
Linné liked beer, thus he had a hop garden on the property, this is a recent recreation of that hop garden. The name designated to hops by Linné was “Humulus lupulus”.
Cheers from Linné's hop garden! Long live Humulus lupulus!
Cheers from Linné’s hop garden! Long live Humulus lupulus!

Mona Lisa goes to America

In 1963, primarily thanks to the then first Lady Jackie Kennedy’s hard work to get the painting to the US, the French government allowed Leonardo da Vinci’s  (born in Vinci Italy 1452 died in France 1519) masterpiece Mona Lisa or ‘La Gioconda’ (Italian, in French – La Jocondeas the painting is also called, to be lent to the United States to be on display in Washington D.C. and New York City. Mona Lisa was displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and after that in New York city at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting made it’s way to the U.S. via ship in a climate controlled container and with heavy security. The ship carrying the painting was escorted into New York City by the US Coast Guard serving as added protection from potential thieves. The painting was in 1962 valued at $100,000,000.00 (100 million dollars) for the insurance needed for the trip.

The woman in the portrait is believed to be that of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, who was a silk merchant from Florence Italy. Her name was  Lisa del Giocondo and the portrait was commissioned by her husband in celebration of the birth of their second son. La Gioconda (feminine of the last name Giocondo) means something along the lines of happy or jovial and the title is thought to be a play on words. It is believed to have been painted mainly between 1503 and 1506. The painting was never placed in the Giocondo home as was the purpose when it was commissioned. Leonardo is thought to have brought the unfinished painting with him to France, where he as an artist and painter was invited in 1516 by King Francois I. Leonardo likely finished the painting while in France and the painting remained there after Leonardo’s death. Leonardo left Mona Lisa to his assistant and it was purchased from him by King Francois I for 4,000 gold coins.  Francois I placed it in his palace at Fontainebleau where it remained for about 100 years. Louis XIV brought it to Versailles when it was made into the Royal residence in 1682. After the French revolution 1789-1799) it hung in Napoleon’s bedroom at the Tuileries for 4 years and then made it’s way to the Louvre in 1804 where it still has a permanent home to the joy of millions of visitors each year.

Mona Lisa or La Gioconda at the Louvre in 2013.
Mona Lisa or La Gioconda at the Louvre in 2013.

As with all the facts regarding the painting, when it was painted and who the subject really was, nothing is certain or definitively proven and much is conjecture after studies done on the matter, so keep this in mind when reading this.

César – artiste extraordinaire

Centre Pompidou is currently having a great retrospect of the late French artist César (Baldaccini) whose most famous work is his thumb in different sizes and different materials. Once you have seen this exhibit you will however realize that even though le Pouce is his most famous work, it is only one of a multitude of works in different materials and techniques. He has crushed/compressed, expanded, welded, sculpted, and he has poured. César was born in Marseille in 1921 and he went to art school at first in Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles and later transferred to École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In Paris he met among others, Picasso and he lived in the same building as Giacometti which both influenced him strongly. César’s works were in the area of what was regarded as Nouveau Realisme and he sometimes fabricated from scraps and found things. César died in Paris in 1988 at the age of 77. Read more about Centre Pompidou and become a member here.

Le Pouce de César.
Le Pouce de César.
A César bird.
A César bird.
Compressed Renault.
Compressed Renault.
Flattened auto.
Flattened auto.
A pour of resin.
A pour of resin.
The 15 ft high Bronze of le pouce at La Defense.
The 15 ft high Bronze of le pouce at La Defense.