Padraic William Burke
Since 1983 my professional career has been devoted to the conservation of environmentally sensitive and valuable townscapes, environmental lands and historic monuments in the U.S. in Europe and Southeast Asia.
With the exception of brief trips back to the US, since 2010 I have been living in Southeast Asia, dividing my time almost evenly between Laos and Northern Thailand.
In both Laos and Northern Thailand (Lanna) I have focused on the local architecture traditions and Buddhist Temple Wall Paintings in both countries.
During the International Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020-2021 I returned to the U.S. I expect to return to Southeast Asia by June of 2021.
I speak Lao, a language that is also readily understood throughout much of Northern Thailand.
In January of 2014 I moved from Laos to the little town of Nan, located in the far northeastern corner of today’s Thailand and the site of the internationally famous Buddhist Temple Murals at Wat Phumin.
I lived in Nan for the next three years, 2014-2017.
Most of these wall paintings are imaginative creations by Thid Bua- Phan that depict various episodes from the ancient Lanna and Lao poem, “Khatthanna Kumman,” the story of the adventures of the Boy Khatthanna.
Many of these wall paintings carry captions identifying and describing various scenes from the Khatthanna story.
All of these captions are written in the Tai Yuan script, a language that was suppressed by the government of Thailand, then called Siam, following the colonization of Lanna at the beginning of the 20th century.
In late 2019 I began working with Professor Viroj Inthanon of Chiang Mai University, and a translator of many Tai Yuan poems and stories, on the first English translation of the Khatthana poem.