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Hariphunchai National Museum, located in Lamphun, was founded as a result of collection of antiquities in Wat Phra That Hariphunchai donated by devotees to the Buddha’s relic in the Pagoda. The amount of the donated antiquities has constantly increased.

It has been common knowledge among the people in Lamphun that around 1910, LN Chak Kham Kajornsak the last ruler of Lamphun, whose governance was from 1912 to 1943, and his friends desired to collect unique local artifacts at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, along with the others long kept in the temple, and to allow interested people to see them. With that intention, the temple provided a place to present those antiquities most of which were kept at the temple terrace and some at the building near that terrace. The rest of them were displayed or exhibited around the temple. These antiquities were collected from a pioneer age from 1910 to 1919.
Later, Phraya Ratchanukul Viboonphakdi (Paurohitya), the intendant of Payap, intended to preserve the state property as cultural heritage in Payap, and Lamphun was found with more antiquities than other northeastern provinces, as below described in the notice of Payap dated July 1st, 1927.
“As Payap had been long built since ancient times, it served as the capital city of Siam. In this city, there were many renowned philosophers, so many antiquities undoubtedly arose and were discovered. Its authorities collected some of them. As stated earlier, the city with more antiquities was Lamphun. Therefore, I considered it appropriate that antiquities discovered so far or in the future shall collected and that the Payap’s museum shall be officially established to ensure that such antiquities would not be harmed or lost. As for its location, the museum should be founded around Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, Lamphun. Apart from that, the library for Payap should be established in Chiang Mai to collect as many old and new books as can be found for people with interests or passion for archaeology and literature. As I have already discussed with the committee of Office of Royal Society, the committee approved my proposal.”
Subsequently, Phraya Ratchanukul Viboonphakdi appointed the working staff for establishment of the Lamphun museum in accordance with the twelfth notice of Payap Government Building on Museum and Library dated on July 15th, 1927 as follows:

1. Prince Chak Kham Kajornsak and Phraya Ratchanukul Viboonphakdi as the director
2. Phraya Vichit Raksa as the operator
3. District chief as the operator assistant and secretary
4. Deputy district chief as the curator
5. Chief of the provincial administration as the curator assistant
6. Chief of finance and accounting as the treasurer
7. Provincial governor’s secretary as the treasurer assistant
Later, the Fine Arts Department planned for expansion of the museum, specifically finding the location and raising the funds/budgets to build a new modern museum. Thus, on June 20th 1968, Phra Dhammamoli, the abbot of Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, donated 2,013 of artistic antiquities in the old museum to the Fine Arts Department to be presented at the upcoming museum; however, the proper location was not found.

In 1972, the Fine Arts Department was later provided with ownership of the public property – 2 rai, 1 ngan and 500 square wa – which was once the location of Lamphun’s penitentiary opposite Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, so the project of the new museum was initiated and finished in 1974. Then, the antiquities were moved from the old building in the temple and exhibited with other antiquities donated by the devotees and moved from Thailand National Museum.
After Hariphunchai National Museum was established and the antiquities were displayed there, the Fine Arts Department respectfully invited Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to preside over the opening ceremony of Hariphunchai National Museum at 3 pm on February 20th, 1979. Therefore, people have visited the museum since then.

History of Lamphun
The territories around the Ping River and Wang River in Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang were formerly named “Land of Samantha” and “Pinkarat” whose famous cities are “Hariphunchai” (currently known as Lamphun) and “Khelangnakorn” (known as Lampang).
Hariphunchai (Lamphun) is the name of the region with close ties with Lawoe (currently known as Lopburi) in the central region on Chao Phraya Delta since the 13th – 14th Buddhist century. In this region, Queen Chamdhevi was the first ruler. However, in the 17th – 19th Buddhist century, King Mengrain of the Yonok Kingdom seized Hariphunchai and founded Chiang Mai. The territories in the upper-northern region were successfully centralized within 100 years, there becoming one territory known as “Lanna”.

Stone Inscription in Hariphunchai National Museum, Lamphun
Stone inscriptions in Hariphunchai National Museum, Lamphun, were collected from objects donated by the devotees to Wat Phra That Hariphunchai. The very first piece of the stone inscription in the temple’s acquisition roughly in 1971 was an old Mon inscription from Wat Don Kaew, which is now Ban Wiang Yong School located on the east side of the Guang River opposite the Lamphun downtown.
In 1930, His Royal Highness Prince Disvarakumarn and George Coedes, a French historian and archaeologist found another old Mon inscription beside a square stupa in Wat Kuti (Wat Chammadevi), so it was later kept at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai. At that time, A number of of the objects kept at the temple increased and was displayed, so Geore Coedes called the temple as “the small museum on the terrace of the temple”; it was actually the first time that the word “museum” for the objects kept in Wat Phra That Hariphunchai from 1917 to 1924. This particular museum had 13 of the stone inscriptions acquired from Lamphun.
With King Prajadhipok’s royal initiative, King Rama VII, His Royal Highness Prince Disvarakumarn for retrieval of stone inscriptions around Payap at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai’s museum, the museum collected 20 of stone inscriptions from Phayao and Chiang Rai. Their intention was to keep local evidence of Lanna at the northern region and some at the Bangkok museum. Thus, because of the king in that age’s judgment, stone inscriptions and other antiquities appeared in Bangkok National Museum and Lamphun Museum.
Apart from that, with the royal intention to move stone inscriptions from Chiang Rai to Lamphun, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai’s museum was being officially founded earlier. Office of the Royal Society approved Phraya Ratchanukul Viboonphakdi’s proposal for establishment of the new museum “Payap Museum” on July 15th, 1927. The first chief was Prince Chak Kham Kajornsak and the intendant of Payap with the government officers of Lamphun as the committee.
In that time, there were 37 of inscriptions on a tablet from 1972 to 1974. The museum built a new building opposite the old location of Lamphun’s penitentiary. Antiquities, together with inscriptions, were moved to the new building in 1978. On February 20, 1979, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was respectfully invited to preside over the opening ceremony of the museum.
In 1998, the museum returned 12 of stone inscriptions to Chiangsan National Museum, and it acquired a sandstone inscription from Lee District, Lamphun Province, in 2006. Until now, Haripunchai National Museum has acquired 26 of inscriptions, 25 of which are sandstone inscriptions and one of which is the inscription on the tablet. Among 25 of those sandstone inscriptions, 17 of them are inscribed using the Lanna script while eight using the old Mon script.