Mueang (Thai: mang, pronounced [m?a]), Muang (Lao: mang, pronounced [m?a]), or Mong (Shan: m, pronounced [m]) were pre-modern semi-independent city-states or principalities in mainland Southeast Asia, adjacent regions of Northeast India and Southern China, including what is now Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, parts of northern Vietnam, southern Yunnan, western Guangxi and Assam.
Mueang was originally a term in the Tai languages for a town having a defensive wall and a ruler with at least the Thai noble rank of khun (), together with its dependent villages. The mandala model of political organisation organised states in collective hierarchy such that smaller mueang were subordinate to more powerful neighboring ones, which in turn were subordinate to a central king or other leader. The more powerful mueang (generally designated as chiang, wiang, nakhon or krung -- with Bangkok as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) occasionally tried to liberate themselves from their suzerain and could enjoy periods of relative independence. Mueang large and small often shifted allegiance, and frequently paid tribute to more than one powerful neighbor -- the most powerful of the period being Ming China.
Following Kublai Khan's defeat of the Dali Kingdom of the Bai people in 1253 and its establishment as a tutelary state, new mueang were founded widely throughout the Shan States and adjoining regions -- though the common description of this as a "mass migration" is disputed. Following historical Chinese practice, tribal leaders principally in Yunnan were recognized by the Yuan as imperial officials, in an arrangement generally known as the Tusi ("Native Chieftain") system. Ming and Qing-era dynasties gradually replaced native chieftains with non-native Chinese government officials.
In the 19th century, Thailand's Chakri dynasty and Burma's colonial and subsequent military rulers did much the same with their lesser mueang, but, while the petty kingdoms are gone, the place names remain.
Place names in Southwestern Tai languages
Laos is colloquially known as Muang Lao, but for Lao people, the word conveys more than mere administrative district. The usage is of special historic interest for the Lao; in particular for their traditional socio-political and administrative organisation, and the formation of their early (power) states, described by later scholars as Mandala (Southeast Asian political model). Provinces of Laos are now subdivided into what are commonly translated as districts of Laos, with some retaining Muang as part of the name:
Thailand is colloquially known as Mueang Thai. After the Thesaphiban reforms of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, city-states under Siam were organized into monthon (?, Thai translation of mandala), which was changed to changwat (?) in 1916.Mueang still can be found as the term for the capital districts of the provinces (amphoe mueang), as well as for a municipal status equivalent to town (thesaban mueang). In standard Thai, the term for the country of Thailand is , rtgs: Prathet Thai.
Mueang still forms part of the placenames of a few places, notably Don Mueang District, home to Don Mueang International Airport; and in the Royal Thai General System of Transcription Mueang Phatthaya (?) for the self-governing municipality of Pattaya.
Sung Noen District is noted for having been the site of two ancient cities: Mueang Sema and Khorakhapura. Pali púra became Sanskrit puri, hence Thai ?, ?, (buri) all connoting the same as Thai mueang: city with defensive wall. "Khorakhapura" was nicknamed "Nakhon Raj," which as a portmanteau with Sema, became Nakhon Ratchasima. Though dropped from the name of this mueang, Sanskrit buri persists in the names of others.
Müang Fai is a term reconstructed from Proto-Tai, the common ancestor of all Tai languages. In the Guangxi-Guizhou of Southern China region, the term described what was then a unique type of irrigation engineering for wet-rice cultivation. Müang meaning 'irrigation channel, ditch, canal' and Fai, 'dike, weir, dam.' together referred to gravitational irrigation systems for directing water from streams and rivers. The Proto-Tai language is not directly attested by any surviving texts, but has been reconstructed using the comparative method. This term has Proto-Tai-tone A1. All A1 words are rising tone in modern Thai and Lao, following rules determined for tone origin. Accordingly, the term is:
Different linguistic tones give different meanings; scholarship has not established a link between this term and any of the terms which differ in tone.
Mueang conveys many meanings, all having to do with administrative, social, political and religious orientation on wet-rice cultivation. The origin of the word mueang yet remains obscure. In October 2007, The National Library of Laos, in collaboration with the Berlin State Library and the University of Passau, started a project to produce the Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts. Papers presented at the Literary Heritage of Laos Conference, held in Vientiane in 2005, have also been made available. Many of the mss. illuminate the administrative, social, political, and religious demands put on communities in the same watershed area that insured a high degree of cooperation to create and maintain irrigation systems (müang-faai) -- which probably was the primary reason for founding mueang.
Kham Mueang (Thai: ?) is the modern spoken form of the old Northern Thai language that was the language of the kingdom of Lan Na (Million Fields). Central Thai may call northern Thai people and their language Thai Yuan. They call their language Kham Mueang in which Kham means language or word; mueang; town, hence the meaning of "town language," specifically in contrast to those of the many hill tribe peoples in the surrounding mountainous areas.
khun : ruler of a fortified town and its surrounding villages, together called a mu'ang. In older sources the prefix ph'o ("father") is sometimes used as well.
Examples of the first are söa?, the name of Ram Khamhaeng's mother, and möa?. Khun Phasit said that these terms should in fact be read as /sö?/ and /mö?/....
...Lord Sam Chon, the ruler of Müang Chot, came to attack Müang Tak....
The use of the word müang is of special historic interest for the Lao; in particular for their traditional socio-political and administrative organisation, and the formation of their early (power) states.
?; ? /-; -/ Pali: 
8278 púra noun. fortress, town, gynaeceum
Nakhon Ratchasima was originally two separate cities namely Khorakhapura (also called Nakhon Raj) and Sema.... The present city of Nakhon Ratchasima, whose name is a portmanteau of Nakhon Raj and Sema, was established by King Narai (1656-88) as the eastern frontier of his kingdom centered on Ayutthaya.
Abstract. By integrating linguistic information and physical geographic features in a GIS environment, this paper maps the spatial variation of terms connected with wet-rice farming of Tai minority groups in southern China and shows that the primary candidate of origin for proto-Tai is in the region of Guangxi-Guizhou, not Yunnan or the middle Yangtze River region as others have proposed....
However, being wet-rice growing societies, Tai baan could not have sustained themselves in isolation, but were dependent to a high degree on water irrigation that demands cooperation of several baan communities being situated in one and the same watershed area. The organisation of cooperation of a number of baan in irrigation works, historically, probably was the primary reason for founding müang, that is a group of several baan managing one common irrigation system (müang-faai), and generally worshipping the same territorial guardian spirit (phii müang) and ancestral spirits.
The reason why they called this language 'Kammuang' is because they used this language in the towns where they lived together, which were surrounded by mountainous areas where there were many hill tribe people.