Saturday, February 25, 2006

Chiang Mai: The Pearl of the North (Part 2)

Chiang Mai Shopping MarketShopping

Chiang Mai is, quite simply, Thailand's major centre for quality handicrafts. The visitor need merely visit the nearest city emporium or night market to purchase an extraordinary variety of antiques, silver jewellery, hilltribe opium pipes and embroidery, Thai silks and cottons, basketry, celadon, silverware, furniture, lacquerware, woodcarvings and parasols. A major advantage of shopping in Chiang Mai is that the visitor may watch artisans working within the city and in several outlying villages, particularly along the Bor Sang San Kamphaeng road where, in genuine cottage industries, parasols, silk and cotton weaving, jewellery, woodcarving, silverware, celadon and lacquerware are manufactured, and number among popular purchases. Major Chiang Mai products include: Cottons and Silks First-class Chiang Mai cottons and silks are of incomparable quality. Cottons and silkshave innumerable fashion and furnishing applications. The largest possible selection is available in San Kamphaneg. Umbrellas/Parasols These are inextricably associated with Bor Sang where villagers have been engaged in their manufacture for at least 200 years. All materials, silks, cottons, sa paper (manufactured from the bark of the mulberry tree), and bamboo are produced or found locally. Visitors to Bor Sang will see literally hundreds of designs and sizes ranging from the miniature to the gigantic. Silverware The finest Thai silverware is exquisite, and is made in Chiang Mai, where certain families have prectised their art for several generations. Traditional skills and a guaranted content of at least 92.5% pure silver invest bowls, receptacles and decorative items with authentic value. Silver shops are concentrated on Wualu Road, where silverware artisans and their families live. Lacquerware Striking black and gold designs give lacquerware its visual appeal and sheen. This decorative art enhances items made of wood, bamboo, metal, paper and baked clay, in the form of receptacles, ornaments and various souvenirs. Furniture/Woodcarving Chiang Mai is a major centre of furniture making. Major woods and materials include teak, rosewood and rattan. Items may be unadorned or, especially with teak and rosewood, artfully carved in traditional or modern designs. Woodcarving is a traditional northern Thai art featured in numerous temples. In recent years, wood carving has increasingly embellished furniture, gracing screens, chairs, tables, beds, indeed anything bearing a wooden surface large enough to be carved. Carved elephants, figurines and tableware number among other popular purchases. Hilltribe Products These include silver ornaments, such as bracelets, necklaces, pendants, hairpins and pipes of intricate design, and embroidered items including tunics, jackets,bags, purses, caps and dress lengths. Gold Plated Orchids and Butterflies Orchids and butterflies are preserved and plated with 24carat gold to create unusual gift items such as necklace pendants, hairpins and earrings. Pottery Chiang Mai is the major centre of Thailand's pottery industry. Prized items include high-fired celadon which is produced in many forms, including dinner sets, lamp bases and decorative items


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