One of the oldest and most important of the protective spirits in Chiang Mai is a being known as Phor Luang Kam Daeng. It is widely believed that he dwells in the Chiang Dao Mountain, along with his spirit-wife, Nang In Lao. Largely by virtue of the marriage to his indigenous partner, the Lanna people believe him to be Lord of the Spirits of the region. His name always invoked first in local ceremonies.
Stories about his human existence, when he was a prince of Payao, are found in the famous local chronicles: the dumnarn and pongsawadan. According to these written and oral sources, the young ruler made the pledge to capture an elusive deer, but was exiled because he failed to do so. Having continued to follow the deer, he eventually reached Chiang Dao, where it turned into a bewitching beauty with whom he fell in love. Not realising how he had been beguiled, Phor Luang Kam Daeng later continued on the trail of the deer down to where Chiang Mai now stands, following the advice of a reusi, or hermit, there that this was a particularly auspicious location for settlement. [Read more…]