Dating back more than one hundred years, the name Phor Liang has long been highly-respected amongst Chiang Mai’s various communities and city dwellers, referring, as all know, directly to the clan whose founding Patriarch was Mr. Meun Maiwan, a widely renowned and remarkably talented elephant healer. During his illustrious medical practice, Mr. Maiwan uniquely made use of traditional herbs to create medicines for treating the elephants under his care, elephants that have historically played a magical yet vital role in many facets of Thai life. As his career progressed, Mr. Maiwan also began to focus on holistic medicine aimed at treating ailments, particularly bone and skeletal disorders. In 1938, the Thai Government awarded Mr. Maiwan a License as a Traditional Bone Healer, officially recognising his tireless and innovative professional efforts in the field of herbal medicine.
Three generations later, his grandson, Mr. Suttiphong Maiwan, established a seedling terra cotta business and incorporated the traditional family name into the business name, yielding what is today the very successful Phor Liang Meun Terra Cotta Arts. Products manufactured as well as hand sculpted and carved by the firm’s artists can be found decorating structures throughout Thailand and abroad. The vast array of pieces manufactured in Lampun, where the company is based, are especially suitable for a multitude of uses in the architecture and landscape of hotels, resorts, and restaurants, in addition to private residences alike.
The architectural design and decoration of the hotel are a compilation of many artistic concepts, most drawn primarily from art found all over South East Asia. Of particular uniqueness to the hotel architecture and decor is the distinctly widespread use of clay a pieces created by the Phor Liang Meun Terra Cotta Arts family business.
Sculptures found throughout the hotel each possess a significant meaning, quite often depicting images of mythical animals such as dragons, as well as some animals typically found in Chinese culture, such as traditional art and rats, cows, lions and the like. Notable examples include the clay fences and walls lining the hotel perimeter, which are adorned with high relief sculptures of elephants, in addition to the lobby arch, which is eye-catchingly highlighted by the shapes of serpents and garland.
The shape and design of the hotel roofs are also of important significance, as the Lanna people believe the front roof, “Makara”, serves to protect inhabitants from evil or bad spirits. Furthermore, the clay decoration pieces lining the rooftops are called “Brali”, meaning lotus buds, and represent the Buddhist concepts of Pure Spirit (Emptiness) and Peaceful Life.
Last but not least, and certainly not to be overlooked, is the hotel lobby, whose main wall is a high relief Terra Cotta sculptural mural divided into two sections, each representing a story. Both sections are composed of intricate floral motifs, mythical animals, as well as elephants, which are in Thailand symbolic of prosperity and peace, in addition to power and braveness. Of equal interest is the lobby’s small arch door called “Lukshmi”, named after the Goddess of Knowledge, Beauty and Fortuity. Finally, the lobby’s high window decor with balustrades allows an abundance of sunlight to stream into the lobby space, which the Thais believe to promote a happy life.