Yuan Phai, the Defeat of Lanna

A Fifteenth-Century Thai Epic Poem

Translated by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

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  • hardcover not available
  • Published: April 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / Southeast Asia; Literature / Poetry
  • Bibliographic information: 119 pp., 3 illus., 1 map, 5.5 x 8.25 in.
  • Territorial rights: Not Available in Southeast Asia
  • Distributed for: Silkworm Books
  • Contents

Written after a battle fought in approximately 1475, this poem may be the oldest work of literature from Siam. It features the earliest and most detailed description of a Siamese army, the most elaborate eulogy of an early Thai monarch, and a fascinating discussion of the concept of loyalty. Scenes of personal treachery, heroism, combat, and looting after victory give an absorbing image of early Siam.

This translation shares the poem-esteemed in Thailand for its historical and literary importance-with a wider audience. Blank verse conveys the rhythm and atmosphere of the original, and annotations explain obscure words and concepts. An afterword analyzes form, content, and the poem's literary and historical significance.
Chris Baker formerly taught Asian history at Cambridge University. Pasuk Phongpaichit is professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University. In 2010 they won the A. L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize for Khun Chang Khun Phaen.