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/>

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Out and About - South of Chiang Mai - Part 1

The new year began with yet more visitors: Chiang Mai has been the destination du jour, especially for Chinese tourists, but we have also had numerous visits from occidental friends and clients. One such group wanted to see textiles being made and other cultural attractions, so one Saturday we headed south toward Chom Tong. Our first stop was the water buffalo market in San Patong. A Saturday-only rural market, it is so well-attended that it has now crossed the 4 lane highway, causing ongoing traffic to slow to a crawl. We always find fun things at this market and also enjoy the people-watching, as it brings folks out of the hills from miles around. On offer are mostly useful items: baskets of all sorts, tools, clothes and of course, food. This time we saw ducklings, but were too late for the buffalo trading.

handmade brooms, fish traps, trays, traps, etc.
3 for 25 Baht... for your three-footed baby...?
Handmade knives and slingshots
The Monsters are here!
Sweet treats

Further down the road, in Chom Tong, we stopped at the venerable Wat Chom Tong. Newly restored, it is quite a masterpiece of interior decoration. All the beams, columns and walls are painted with gold stenciled designs. Large umbrellas help define the space and an ornately carved altar forms the backdrop for the main Buddha figure. We especially like the beautifully-carved wooden 'tung', or vertical banners, that are given to a temple to make merit. This one, below, depicts intertwined nagas, and is gilded and uses mica for the mirror elements.

 At the entrance to the vihaan we noticed large honeycombs hanging from the eaves (see the two left of center). Further investigation rewarded us with the amazing sight of a tree full of honeycombs (!). The bees here seem happy!

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Out and About - South of Chiang Mai - Part 2

No trip south is complete without a visit to the weaving cooperative Ban Rai Pai Ngam. South of Chom Tong, near the 68km marker, it is also known as Pa Da Textile Museum. Located along the Ping River, it is a beautiful site, with the entrance via a lane canopied by bamboo. Your arrival is heralded by the vision of a handsome two story, generously-proportioned, dark-stained wooden house. I recently learned that this fine home was once the summer home  of a Chiang Mai ruler, back in the early 20th century. This explains what I've always thought of as its 'refined' quality: large rooms, good layout, nice details, and even an indoor kitchen. I don't know when it became the home of Mrs. Bansiddhi, but she formed the weaving cooperative that works on the ground floor, under the main house, after WWII. Their weavings are famous for the use of innovative patterning, lovely textures, and use of natural dyes. A previous blog post shows more of the house and textile-making process.

Cotton skeins showing colors from natural dyes

This lady is setting up the warp threads prior to putting them on the loom
(above and below)

Weavers at work

 Hungry for lunch, we headed back to Chom Tong, but turned right on the south side of town, toward the river where we found the Rim Nam restaurant (053/826-154) at the end of the road. We'd eaten here in the past and been pleased with the fresh fish and well-prepared Thai food; their 'yam plaa duk fu'/fluffy catfish salad is stellar in our memories.

Our next stop was to satisfy the 'culture vultures' in the group: the Ganesha Museum. This was a first for me, but I'd heard of it several years ago from a Ganesha collector and had wanted to visit ever since. One of Thailand's wonderful, eccentric private museums, this should be in every guidebook. 'Mike', aka Khun Pundhorn Teerakanon, opened the museum in 2009 to house his 2000+ figures. His interest in Ganesha has taken him all over the world and the collection includes items from his travels. Ganesha (or Kaness, as pronounced in Thailand) is the Hindu deity with the human body and head of an elephant. It comes in many forms: multi-armed,  on horseback, even as a female, and he has them all.

In a buggy, with his loyal attendant 'Rat'

A modern version

On horseback, in stone
As a female, in ceramic

The pagoda was closed

Pagoda entrance

Ganesha can even be found in nature

Shiva as hermit

The sun was setting and the museum closing

A rich day of culture and the marvels of northern Thailand left us all amazed and stimulated by the wondrous sights. This is why I've yet to get bored living here!

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