Wood Carving in Thailand
Intricate and Decorative Wooden Handicrafts from around the Country
Ornate Thai Carvings
It's easy to understand why ornamental Wood Carving in Thailand is
such a highly specialized skill when you consider just how much
intricate detail goes into every item created.
Whether its a tiny
wooden bowl or an enormous engineered wooden structure, the sheer
professionalism of the craft cannot be faulted. When
Thailand was covered by forest, the wood carving frenzy was at its peak,
and much of this painstaking craft has survived the harsh tropical Thai
Decorative Wooden Frieze
Decorative Wood Carving
Usually you'll find decorative wooden carvings adorning many religious temples throughout the country, but you will find just as
many intricate carvings on some of the royal buildings as well as on regal boats such as those seen at the Royal Barge Museum
in Bangkok. A modest style of the craft can also be found in the
humblest of Thai homes seen dotted around parts of the country.
Do yourself a favour when next you visit a wat here, and before passing straight through the door, stop for a moment and look up towards the eaves and examine the carvings, some of which will simply amaze you. And speaking of amazement, if you happen to be going to Pattaya during your stay, then you must take a turn at the hundred and five metre tall elephantine wooden monument known as the Sanctuary of Truth at Palm Beach, Cape Naklea.
Thai wood Carver at Work in Bangkok
Wood Carving Handicrafts
You will be pleasantly surprised to know that many of the carved wooden
items on sale are generally not that expensive. I once impulsively
purchased a piece of furniture while on an outing with a colleague. As I
was driving north of Bangkok to a
factory to view some of the metal items I was about to purchase, I came
across this beautifully crafted piece of furniture on the back of a
truck that had stopped at the side of the road. I couldn't resist taking a closer look and though the couch weighed over a ton, I
bought it without any hesitation.
Dragon Couch purchased by the Author
Chinese Dragon Couch
The real reason why I had to have this couch was simply because along the back of the piece was an enormous dragon, a
close to my heart. You have to understand that I was born under the
Chinese Astrological Sign of the Dragon.
My next step was to find a
place to store it before shipping it to South Africa, where I was living
at the time. I have since sold the piece for five times the price paid. It was one of my best investments. Had I known its worth in
South Africa, I would have bought a few more wooden pieces of furniture.
Author at Work at the Sanctuary of Truth
Things you need to Know
Before you go about purchasing such a colossal piece of furniture
such as the one I did, there are a few things you may need to know. Many of these
items are crafted out of teak and you have to be aware that some
hardwood items might be made from illegally felled trees.
It could be well worth your while to find out from your supplier whether you will
be allowed to ship the goods back home. I had to make sure that the dragon couch I purchased came from a reliable source.
Though the use of teak (tectona grandis) in Thailand dates back many centuries, reckless over-logging has led to disastrous levels of deforestation and as a result, most commercial teak logging as well as exportation has been banned.
Teak is a natural choice for the use in building and the making of furniture and handicrafts due to its favourable properties which include strength and resistance to disease and pests. For this reason its fine grain is perfect for intricate carvings.
Beautifully Crafted Teak Cabinet
Where to find Wood Carvings
If you really want to purchase reasonably priced wooden,
handicrafts, furniture or wall-hangings, you may need to head out of the
Chiang Mai. Wood carving is a specialty in towns such as Mae Tha and Ban Luk near
Lampang as well as in the Bo Hang district of Chiang Mai, both in
If you cannot make it all the way north and have limited time, you could try the Royal Thai Handicraft Centre
in Bangkok. But don't expect prices here to be on the same page as
those in the north where bargaining is part of the program.
However the Royal Thai Handicraft Centre has an impressive display of traditional Thai teak wood carvings. The centre is said to the largest of its kind in the city. It's also a great place to watch Thai artisans at work.
The centre not only sells carved wooden products, but they also hand make and sell products such as silk textiles and flowers as well as bronze-ware, lacquer-ware, inlaid mother-of-pearl rosewood products, leather goods, ivory, ceramics, art and antiques.
Wooden Elephant Handicrafts
What you can Purchase
Everything from carved wooden bowls, pill boxes, friezes, screens,
headboards, doors, lintels, cabinets, beds, couches and a whole host of
handicrafts such as the elephants seen in the photo above, can be
purchased at markets, shopping arcades and factories in most towns and
cities throughout Thailand.
Traditional motifs such as the lotus flower,
mythological creatures from India and serpents and dragons from China
are also on offer as are wooden
in many forms.
Thai Wood Carver at Work in Chiang Mai
Return from Wood Carving to Thailand Art
Return from Carving in Wood to Thai Carving
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