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Bang Sai

Ayutthaya   |   Bang Sai   |   wat

September, 2004

Thailand photo.
1. Aviary
Thailand photo.
2. Cultural village
Thailand photo.
3. Umbrella painter
Thailand photo.
4. Weaving

— Index —

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The Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts & Crafts Center was founded by the Queen of Thailand to provide educational and employment opportunities. The Center is primarily a place where young people can learn the ancient crafts of Thailand, and some new ones. It also includes a number of other facilities, some of which seem designed to attract tourists to buy the crafts that the students create. We were particularly enchanted by the birds in the aviary (see photo #1, at left). Most were small and kept their distance, but one large bird was quite aggressive. He came up close to us, clacking his bill at us, and actually bit Jamie's umbrella. You should stay far away from this fellow !!

Another attraction at Bang Sai is the cultural village. It has representative examples of a variety of traditional Thai houses. They are all quite beautiful (photo #2), and probably represent the traditional lifestyle of the very wealthy. (We did not see houses like these in rural villages around Thailand.) The interiors were furnished with the equipment of daily life, such as these cooking pots and this swinging baby's crib. Many of the household items on display are very similar to the ones we have seen in use during our travels in Myanmar and Laos. The grounds in the village were beautifully maintained, and included both ornamental and edible plants.

But the main reason for the Center is to train young artists and craftsmen, and their workshops cover a large area. We saw a variety of crafts, both traditional and modern, as we toured the facilities. This umbrella painter (photo #3) was using the same techniques we saw in northern Thailand earlier this summer. Other, more modern crafts, include sculpture, including some truly monumental pieces that were being produced in pieces to be fit together in a final assembly. The sculptures were also made in metal, wood, and glass. There were also batik artists, doll and mask makers, and furniture makers. The furniture was either wood or rattan. Everything was done to a very high standard.

Perhaps the most impressive craft was the weaving of brocade fabrics (photo #4). We had never realized the amount of tedious hand work that goes into making one of these pieces. The work seems to be a combination of weaving and stitching. It must take weeks to complete even a small piece. When we were in Chang Mai, we bought a long piece of silk fabric that is designed to be hung on a wall as decoration. Seeing the process that was involved in its production makes the price seem very reasonable indeed.

There is a large hall at the Center which is a showcase for the crafts produced there, and a shop to buy those crafts. There were many wonderful things for sale, and the prices were really quite reasonable. But, after almost four months here, we have bought all the artwork we can afford. And none of it will fit in the boat. Everything has been shipped to Jim's sister to store for us until the day we return to living on land, whenever that may be. (We still haven't decided what we want to do when we grow up.)


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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
Website designed and created by Lois Richter, expanded by Jim.
Created 9/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.