Khun Borom

Khun Borom

Khun Borom Rachathirath is the legendary progenitor of the Tai-speaking peoples, considered by the Lao and others to be the father of their race.


According to the myth of Khun Borom, commonly related among the Lao, people in ancient times were wicked and crude. A great deity destroyed them with a flood, leaving only three worthy chiefs who were preserved in heaven to be the founders and guides for a new race of people. The deity sent the three chiefs back to the earth with a buffalo to help them till the land. The chiefs and the buffalo arrived in the land of Muang Then (believed to be present-day Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam). Once the land had been prepared for rice cultivation, the buffalo died and a gourd vine grew from his nostril. From the gourds on the vine, the new human race emerged- relatively dark-skinned aborigonal peoples emerging from gourds cut open with a hot poker, and the lighter skinned Lao emerging from cuts made with a chisel.

The gods then taught the Tai people how to build houses and cultivate rice. They were instructed in proper rituals and behaviour, and grew prosperous. As their population grew, they needed aid in governing their relations and resolving disputes. The chief god sent his son, Khun Borom, to be the ruler of the Tai people. Khun Borom ruled the Tai people for 25 years, teaching them to use new tools and other arts. After this quarter-century span, Khun Borom divided the Tai kingdom among his seven sons, giving each one of them a portion of the kingdom to rule. The eldest son, Khun Lo, was given the kingdom of Muang Sua- modern day Luang Prabang. Other sons was given the kingdoms of Siang Khwang, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Sipsong Pan Na (Southern Yunnan, China), Hamsavati (a Mon state in modern-day Myanmar), and an unknown area apparently in north-central Vietnam, sometimes identified with Nghe-an province.


Some interpreters of the story of Khun Borom believe that it describes Tai-speaking peoples arriving in Southeast Asia from China (mythically identified with heaven, from which the Tai chiefs emerge after the flood). The system of dividing and expanding a kingdom in order to provide for the sons of a ruler agrees in general with the apparent organization and succession practices of ancient Tai village groups, called mueang.

Khun Bourom Maharasa dynasty - The great King of the Nan Chao (Ai Lao) Empire Khun Bourom had 9 sons and 7 of them became king in different kingdom in the area of so called "Lamthong": "Khun Lor" ruled Moung Sawa (Sua), (LuangPhrabang, Laos) "Khun Palanh" ruled SipsongPanna, (China) "Khun Chusong" ruled TungKea, (Muang HuaoPhanh to Tonkin, Vietnam) "Khun Saiphong" ruled Lanna, (ChiengMai, Thailand) "Khun Ngua In" ruled Ayuthaya, (Thailand) "Khun Lok khom" ruled Moung Hongsa (Inthaputh), (Shan state, Burma) "Khun ChetCheang" ruled Moung Phuan, (XiengKhouang, Laos) There were 19 Kings after Khun Loor that ruled Muang Sawa(Sua). The last one was Khun Vaang. After his death, his son who was named "Lang" took the throne and was then named "King Langthirath". After King Langthirath died, his son (Thao Khamphong) was crowned as "King Souvanna Khamphong." After King Souvanna Khamphong died, his son "Chao Fifah" or "Khamhiao" took the throne.Chao Fifah (Khamhiao) had 6 sons and one of them was "Chao FaNgum". King FaNgum was the creator of the Lan Xang Kingdom during his reign in the 13th century.

Both King Mengrai of Chiang Mai and U-Thong of Ayutthaya is said to have come from Khum Borom Lao Dynasty.

Scholar David K. Wyatt believes that the Khun Borom myth may provide insight into the early history of the Tai people in Southeast Asia. Versions of the Khun Borom myth occur as early as 698 CE in Siang Khwang, and identify Tai-speaking kingdoms that would be formally established years later. This may provide an indication of the early degree of geographical spread found in Tai-speaking peoples, and provides a mythological explanation for why modern Tai-speaking peoples are found in such widespread pockets. Linguistic analysis indicates that the division of the early Tai speakers into the language groups that gave rise to modern Thai, Lao and other languages occurred sometime between the 7th and 11th Centuries CE. This split proceeded along geographic lines very similar to the division given in the Khun Borom legend, and left the original area of occupation of the Tai people- in Vietnam, in the vicinity of Dien Bien Phu- occupied by speakers from linguistic groups that may have already diverged earlier in history.


*Wyatt, David K., "Thailand: A Short History", New Haven (Yale University Press), 2003. ISBN 0-300-08475-7

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