Müang (or Mueang, Thai: เมือง, pronunciation: [ mɯaŋ ], Laotian: ເມືອງ - Muang, or Shan: Mong ) were the quasi- independent city-states ( principalities ) of the Tai peoples in what is now Thailand, Laos, the Shan - State of Burma, Southern China district Sipsongpanna and the extreme north-west Vietnam. The smaller Müang were the more powerful neighbor Müang often tributary, which in turn paid tribute to the King tribute (Mandala ) system. Some of the great Müang were also called " Kingdom" and obtained at times a certain independence.

In the Lan Na Müang were also more or less independent areas. They were more in cities ( Wiang ) and the surrounding villages ( Ban ) divided.

By Thesaphiban reform under King Rama V ( Chulalongkorn ) end of the 19th century in Siam, the city-states to today's Thai provinces ( Changwat ) were combined and placed under the direct control of the central government.

Further meaning

The term has Müang in the Tai languages ​​a central and varied meaning. Traditionally, it has essentially the following meanings:

  • A community of several villages ( บ้าน, ban, literally " house / houses" or "home" )
  • A political and social unit, early form of a smaller state system, a chiefdom, that of a gentleman ( chao เจ้า - [ t͡ɕâo ] ) was ruled and consists of a city in the center and the surrounding villages. Etymologically, the term used is Müang fai ( เหมืองฝาย, " irrigation ditch ", literally " ditch - defense "). In the aligned on irrigation Reisfeldbau companies of the Tai peoples a Müang was therefore a community based its economic life on a common irrigation system. Müang it was both the name of the city in the center, as well as for the exercises control from the community as a whole. Such Müang was less spatially - geographically isolated than by social and personal interactions and dependencies defined. So were colonialists who set out to settle outside their original Müang still long counted to their ancestral communities, as they had closer relations with this.
  • Civilized territory ( from the perspective of Tai): Tai occupied cultivated land ( in plains, valleys and high plateaus), in contrast to the "wilderness" ( ป่า, pa, literally "forest" ), the forested highlands of who do not or indigenous ( va Austro-Asiatic ) groups were populated, operated the fire slash- field crops, hunted and gathered and of the Tai kha ( ข้า "slaves" ) were called.
  • Mandala system, a larger unit of several Müang under which a central, more powerful Müang was superior to the others who were committed to this tribute and / or fealty. Again, Müang both the name of "capital" as well as the entire " empire ". ( In ancient chronicles and agreements between the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and Western states, for example in the foreign-language version of the country " Siam " is mentioned, in Thai, however, was from Müang Ayutthaya. )
  • In the traditional conception of the universe, a Tai Müang was one of three "worlds", namely, the sensible, the supernatural / metaphysical and heavenly. Müang was used in this sense synonymous with the Pali word loka ( โลก, Thai pronunciation [ lô ː k]).

Important people and institutions in a Müang contributed designations corresponded to the body literally, house plants or parts of Müang. So describes huu Meung ( "Ear of Müang " ) a diplomat, taa Meung ( "Eye of the Müang " ) a wise scholar or counselor, kään Meung ( " seeds of Müang " ) the religious and cultural leader, p (r) atuu Müang ( " door of Müang " ), the border Guard, Raak / haak Meung ( " root of Müang " ) an astrologer Nguang Meung ( " trunk of Müang " ) a counselor or member of the council of elders, khüü Meung ( " roof beams of Müang " ) officials who managed a subunit of the Müang, faa Meung ( " wall of Müang " ) the military chief, pää Meung ( " purlin of Müang " ) the ruling nobility and so on.


The word is still used Müang versatile, both in formal and in informal contexts:

  • Colloquially called Thailand until today Müang Thai ( เมือง ไทย - [ mɯaŋ t ʰ aj ], " community of Thai " ), instead of officially Prathet Thai [NB 1 ] (" Land of the Thais " ) or Ratcha - anachak Thai ( " Kingdom of Thailand " ). The same applies to Laos, colloquially Müang Lao ( ເມືອງ ລາວ ) instead of Pathet Lao ( ປະ ເທດ ລາວ ) or Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao ( ສາ ທາ ລະ ນະ ລັດ ປະ ຊາ ທິ ປະ ໄຕ ປະ ຊາ ຊົນ ລາວ, Democratic People's Republic of Laos).
  • The Thai Amphoe ( districts or counties) where the provincial capital is called, Amphoe Mueang ( อำเภอ เมือง ). Thesaban Mueang ( เทศบาล เมือง ) is an administrative status for medium-sized towns with limited local self-government.
  • In Laos Muang ( ເມືອງ ) is the second highest administrative unit of the provinces ( Khouèng ).