The Broken Building
Chiang Mai is a city inseparable from its significance as a Buddhist and animist center. Its premodern status as a mandala meant that it, in Theravada Buddhist cosmology, radiated out prosperity to the countryside, even as its neighborhoods were miniature mandalas governed by animist spirit shrines. These discourses parallel present-day ideas about the restorative power of culture. But within its sacred heart, Chiang Mai is crumbling. Broken buildings and the glut of cheap high-rise architecture raise concerns about not only social, but spiritual decline.
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