Tracing the origins of the Tai

A group of scholars from the Royal Academy of Cambodia are embarking on research project to trace the origins of the Tai ethnic group and their theorised route from Southern China down south and westwards through mainland Southeast Asia.

Scholars to trace the origins of ethnic Tais
Phnon Penh Post, 09 April 2010

A group of researchers at the Royal Academy of Cambodia plans to trace the origins of the Tai ethnic group, which is said to have arrived from the north before populating areas as far afield as eastern India, southern China and Thailand.

The project will be led by the academy’s secretary general, Sum Chhum Bun, who said that the five-member group will begin its research next week in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Yunnan province, as well as some parts of Thailand.

He said the purpose of the research was to track the migrations of ethnic Tais from Xishuangbanna south into present-day Thailand, where they established the Sukothai empire in parts of the Angkorean empire in the 13th century, a move that he said “disturbed, threatened and weakened” the declining Khmer empire.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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