Tribal Trappings – Asian Ethnic Art, Artifacts, Textiles and Folk Art Tribal Trappings – Thoughts about Thailand, Chiang Mai, things tribal including textiles, ethnographica and folk art <data:blog.pageTitle/>

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chiang Mai Secret - Magical Terracotta Art Garden

Toto- we're not in Kansas anymore! That was my first thought upon entering this magical Oz-like oasis in Chiang Mai's old city back in March of 2009, in the middle of the dry & hot season. I'd heard mention of this garden, but had not had the opportunity to seek it out until I chanced to be wandering down some backstreets and happened upon the garden's beckoning gates.

Going from the dry, dustiness of the city street into the cool, green lushness within the walls was a true revelation, for not only is it a garden, but a collection of terracotta reproductions of the art of Southeast Asia. Thick laterite paving blocks formed paths which were lined with figures large and small from Hinduism and Buddhism: Ganeshas, Buddhas, singhas, nagas, Vishnu, among others.

The walls were lined with bas relief panels from monuments both in Southeast Asia (Angkor Wat primarily), and Indonesia (Prambanan and Borobudur).

Other bas relief panels were laid out on the ground, with some covered in the green velvet of moss that had been carefully cultivated with daily doses of water, hence the earthy smell and verdant feel of the space.

Surreal piles of heads and curious groupings of other figures added to the wonderment.

Some aspects remind one of the monuments in Angkor, where the jungle has imposed its supremacy over the manmade monuments.

As I have since returned with friends, or by myself, it has been entertaining to find the garden ever-changing. Large panels find new homes in hotels or the abodes of the wealthy, both in Thailand and around the world. Broken statues get repaired, sometimes with ill-fitting bits and pieces.

New figures appear in the place of those sold, such as the stunning bronze Indian goddess who is no longer in residence.

Occasionally, the friends I bring buy a piece from the garden. Across from the entrance is a large, handsome wood house that has a showroom, as well as small studio in the back. With luck there may be some artisans at work sculpting the clay and one can see firsthand the talent and skill that goes into creating these amazing works.

Baan Phor Liang Meun's garden of terracotta arts is almost behind the local market at Chiang Mai Gate, which is on the south side of the moat. You can find it by turning left at the soi (6) on the western edge of the market; where several streets converge in a small parking area, turn to your right and the gate is on the right, with the showroom/office across the street. It can also be accessed from Phra Pokklao by going west on Soi 2.

They also have a new, 150 rai (about 55 acres) botanical/terracotta arts garden at their new main workshop in Lamphun- ask about it at the showroom or call 053/278-187 (showroom Chiang Mai) or 053/000-222 (Lamphun).

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