CHIANG MAI: An inscribed city pillar at the Tha Phae Gate has been rediscovered after having been hidden for over 40 years, according to the Fine Arts Department.
There had been great public interest in the whereabouts of the inscribed stone, the 7th Regional Office of the department said on its Facebook page this week.
Some believed the inscription had been kept in the Chiang Mai National Museum, but it had not been seen for almost four decades.
However, department officials led by Therdsak Yenjura, director of the archaeological conservation unit, checked a room hidden inside the Tha Phae Gate and found the inscribed pillar in question on Wednesday.
The find was also witnessed by representatives from Chiang Mai Municipality, the Lanna Inscriptions Database, Faculty of Architecture and Faculty of Fine Arts of Chiang Mai University and local scholars.
The inscription is known by scholars as the “Tha Phae Gate Inscription” or “Inthakhin Pillar Inscription”, indicating its primary function as a city pillar shrine in Chiang Mai.
Media reports said the inscription had been buried with the Chiang Mai city pillar since the city’s foundation. However, the inscription had been removed because the city pillar was under renovation from 1986–87. The inscription had been out of public view since.
According to the late epigrapher Prasert Na Nagara, the Tha Phae Gate Inscription is written in Lanna Dhamma script, depicting a table of traditional numbers and astrology charts, all of which were inscribed in mirror writing.
The translation of the mirrored text describes the blessings bestowed on the city. The word Inthakhin is formed by a combination of two words: Indra, the Hindu god, and khīla, which means stake or post. Prof Prasert concluded that the inscription had been a component of the Chiang Mai city pillar.
Prior to the analysis, the texts had been undecipherable until Ranu Wichasin, a professor at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, found out in 1986 that they were all in mirror writing.
It is not yet known if or when the newly rediscovered inscription will be put on public display.