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, August 28, 2011

Antidote to the White Temple... Upcountry!

Our tour upcountry ended with a truly grand finale: Thawan Duchanee's home and museum called 'Baan Dam'/Black House. Its contrast to the White Temple, a famous artist-built attraction south of Chiang Rai, could not be more striking: personal and eccentric, 'Baan Dam' has an aura of mystery compounded by its links to the natural, earthly realm, rather than the didactic, other-worldly quality of the glistening, blindingly pure White Temple. One senses the march of time for all living things, as well as a respect for the inherent beauty of Nature's creations.

Thawan Duchanee is a Thai National Artist and is famous for his dynamic, gestural paintings of animals and mythical beasts in strong colors, usually red, black, white and gold. Two galleries adjacent to the visitor's parking lot display his work, as well as that of artist friends. Unfortunately all we could do was peer through the glass, as the galleries were closed.

'Baan Dam' is really a collection of structures, accented by sculptures and the iconic buffalo horns which are constructed into sculpture and functional objects, such as chairs and tables, and used to decorate buildings.

Ajan Duchanee's home (above) is centrally located in the compound, with surrounding buildings devoted to guest accommodations, eating and entertaining spaces, and his collections. The collections consist of traditional baskets with sculptural forms (many are for fish-trapping),

unusual natural wood and rock formations,

several fine Buddhas, animal bones and skeletons, old tools, and exceptional examples of wood carving.

Most of the buildings are wood and are painted black, tho there are three dome-like concrete structures in white. A very strange black concrete building on the edge of the area is an idealized Great Hornbill head and serves as a guest room.

Probably the largest of the buildings is the Banquet Hall (below),

a Thai version of a hypostyle hall with large columns made of individual tree trunks and a central parade of long, meter-wide tables made from single planks of teak. Python skins form runners down the centers of the tables. One wonders what the banquet menus consist of...

A basilica for feasting, it includes side aisles with additional tables, each commandeered by elaborate chairs made of horns, antlers and skulls.

Ajan Duchanee also designed the beautiful carved doors,

some wooden 'dtung' (banners traditionally hung in temples)

and groups of totem-like poles (detail below).

Even the loos were worth checking out!

Website: Thawan Duchanee and Baandam Museum -

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