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Souvenir from Thailand

Basketry

Some baskets and accessories made of Yan LipaoBasketry in Thailand is made from coconut palms, reeds, rattan, bamboo and many other types of vegetation. Even the water hyacinth is now being gathered to dry and plait for use in trays, lampshades and furniture. Southern basketry boasts a delicate craft of wicker work using a local variety of vine fern called yan lipao which is fashioned into all kinds of household accessories including the famous evening bags. The hard finish of the yan lipao surface gives an impression of extreme durability, yet the completed works are very light.

A medium-sized basket takes between seven to thirteen months to make, depending on the complexity of the shape and the fineness of the strands used. Food baskets, fans, hats, table mats, handbags and boxes made of yan lipao make lovely souvenirs or gifts.

Ceramics

Bencharong
Introduced to Thailand from China, Bencharong is made from porcelain, exquisitely decorated in multicoloured enamels. Beautiful food containers and covered bowls are available in a variety of sizes.

Blue and White Pottery
This attractive, hand painted pottery is a traditional design used in many authentic Thai restaurants throughout the country. You’ll see it represented in bowls, vases, planters and dinnerware.

Celadon
The art of Celadon was introduced to Thailand from China 600-700 years ago. Celadon is traditionally made in various shades of green, but the addition of different minerals can produce blue, mushroom or occasionally a deep red colour. A most elegant gift.

Jewellery

Jewellry, jewellry and jewellryIt is certainly possible to get real value for money when shopping for jewellery. Always look for the best quality designs and for well mounted gems.

When buying an expensive gem, you may ask your jeweller for an identification certificate or seek one from the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Bangkok (Tel: 02 513-2112)

Note that this is done only on unmounted gems. If already in a setting, the stone will be removed for testing. The AIGS certificate of identification will not attach a monetary value to the gemstone.

Pearls

A display of pearlsThailand’s local production of pearls comes from either Phuket or Koh Samui.

Phuket is famous for its south seas, cultured and freshwater pearls which, when mounted in gold, make beautiful and reasonably priced earrings, pendants and rings.

Lacquerware

The art of lacquerware originated in China but became popular in Thailand many years ago when it was used for decorating window and door panels, cabinets and storage boxes. A three-month process of repeated coatings of clay and lacquer sap is the traditional method. This is followed by careful painting or the addition of a gold leaf design. Burmese lacquer tends to be made on a bamboo base (as opposed to a teak one,) which is less brittle. These items are beautiful on their own and much appreciated by visitors from around the world.

Kalagas

A framed wall hanging with an embroidered elephantKalagas (Burmese Wall Hangings) is a very ancient Burmese art form now practised in Thailand. The highly decorative appliques tell tales of princes and spirits, all portrayed with great beauty.

There are cushion covers, typically embroidered with elephants, peacocks and scenes from Burmese folk tales. If you are lucky and find one with silver sequins and quartz beads - grab it!

Thai Silk

Of all the handicrafts, Thailand is perhaps best known for its hand woven Thai silk. The rainbow of colours, prints and the variety of weights make the choice extremely difficult. The terms 1-ply, 2-ply, etc. refer to the number of filaments stranded together, so making the fibre thicker. Thinner silk is best for blouses, shirts and evening wear while the thicker, heavier silk is good for jackets, ball gowns and the like. The delicate Thai Silk batik is expensive because every design is hand done and no patterns are repeated. Best used for blouses, dresses and men’s shirts.

You can usually have any item of clothing made within two days. It is recommended to either dry clean or hand wash Thai Silk. You will also see many colours of what Americans call “sand washed silk” in fabric shops. It is referred to here as Chinese silk

The noble insect which produces the precious silk has been, for centuries, mistakenly called a “worm” when, in fact, it is a caterpillar of the insect family known as Lepidoptera.

The bulk of commercial silk is harvested from the Bombyx mori caterpillar. This insect has been reared under controlled conditions for more than three thousand years.

The Bombyx mori is a finicky eater, feeding exclusively on finely chopped, freshly picked mulberry leaves. It takes about 48 hours of work to reel one kilogram of silk (raw silk.) From there the silk is further processed and dyed.

The best advice in buying Thai Silk is to do it while in Thailand. You’ll get the best choice, best quality and the best price.

Wood Carving

Wood carvings and other artifactsThis is an age-old tradition, as a glimpse at virtually any temple in Thailand will tell. In addition to decorative panels and furniture, everyday items such as serving bowls and spoons are often adorned by carvings. Trainees first master the art of drawing before they are trained in the art of woodcarving.

Look for small intricately carved “spirit houses” adorned with hand-cut coloured mirrors which you will see in larger designs everywhere on the island. These spirit houses serve to keep the good spirits around to protect the Thai people. A good rule of thumb is the more detail on the carved items the more expensive.

Contacts

Canal Village Shopping Centre
390/1 Moo 1 Srisoonthorn Road
Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket 83110
Tel: 66 (0) 7632 4453-7
Fax: 66 (0) 7632 4065
E-mail: shopping@lagunaphuket.com


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