Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


From my novel "Dignity, Too" “Liars or not, Puchteca weren’t socially admissible.” “Suspect characters.” “Spies, even.” With discussion of the social ostracism of early traders, they proceeded on to how otherwise odd they must have been. Rodney explained: Ancient traders of the area seem, to those who’ve investigated sufficiently, to have of necessity become spies and agents for lords of rival empires, lords the jealousies of whom the traders must certainly have needed to stay most carefully aware. Despite their knowledge of themselves as ‘traveling lords,’ their wealth and even influence was of necessity kept disguised. No rivalry with their ‘masters’ could ever even be suggested (without disastrous results, destabilizing at best!). Often wealthier than the richest nobles, they yet traveled difficult, dangerous terrain on foot, hauling trade-goods on their backs. Because they already undertook such great risks, a strict code of honesty had to be adhered to amongst themselves, but only amongst themselves. They neither competed, nor needed to. Compounded in their code of honesty was a directive to display respect for others, especially when bargaining with them. Humble in appearance, often they held the real, most important powers, so much so that the places kept for paying respect to, and asking things of, ‘the knowers of things,’ were located at their places of business, the main markets. Other than the Market God ‘Knower of Things,’ their Gods were strictly their own. Their relation to them was direct; while traveling, they submitted to no other priests, acknowledging none as holier than themselves. Little else may have been theirs to control, overtly, but only they governed the rules of their religion, and their markets. There were other markets, for instance garden markets and local crafts markets, and other market gods, which were not theirs, or even based on theirs. But over anything foreign, they were the masters. Coming under, and living by, their own special laws, they respected their own amorphous nation, which existed invisibly to outsiders, while within other nations. They decided things in their own way, creating impact as they thought best for themselves. Rodney, surprisingly and pleasantly informed and open, explained on about Oztomeca, hereditary Puchteca based in Aztec society, who “went disguised in local garb speaking the local language” wherever they traded. They exchanged militarily useful knowledge in addition to trade goods. Oztomeca had private social clubs, their own houses (usually quite luxurious on the inside) in their own neighborhoods, and observed their own feast days. Who had more direct power, greater physical might, though, they of direst necessity acknowledged, and carefully gave the appearance of humbling themselves before. From the California deserts to southern Colorado and the hills of east Texas, then south even past Panama, the Oztomeca and other Puchteca traded among empires and tribes whose only other intercourse involved war. For them, distant future planning had a meaning it couldn’t for others, and they were perhaps the first to see various tribal groups as kinds of repositories… Certainly conspiracy and some successful premeditation seemed to Rodney to have existed among them, with planning suggestive of other more extensive planning, perhaps even regarding things yet to come, things perhaps still not fully apprehended by us in the modern world.

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