Vol. VIII No. 52 - Tuesday
December 29 2009 - January 4, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bikers and Hikers Unite to Help Children in Need

The Patterns, Passages & Prayers of Golden Triangle Hilltribes

Silk collectors celebrate

 

Bikers and Hikers Unite to Help Children in Need

 

The Patterns, Passages & Prayers of Golden Triangle Hilltribes

By Shana Kongmun
Patterns, Passages & Prayers, a photo exhibit by Victoria Vorreiter a classical violinist and lecturer at DePaul University School of Music, opened at the Tamarind Village on Monday, December 21. Victoria, who originally came to the Chiang Mai area to make a documentary on the local hill tribes’ vanishing culture, customs, music and festivals, quickly learned that a documentary with a 5 minute vignette on a complex cultural ritual was not enough.

Victoria Vorreiter introduces her work to the audience at the Tamarind Village on December 21.
She then spent the next five years photographing and documenting hill tribe culture and rituals throughout the Golden Triangle. Travelling through China, Laos, Burma and Thailand, she took photographs of hill tribes people from all different groups, not only living out their daily lives but enacting important cultural rituals; from birthing, to courting, marriage and death. She would re-visit different villages at different times to get the full gamut of the importance of their cultural practices in their lives. She also went back to the same festival year after year in order to get a fuller picture of what the festival was about and what occurred.
Her photos display the complexity, beauty and integrity of people whose lives have been hard, and whose vanishing culture has been ignored. Akhu and Hmong hilltribes people performed music at the showing and Victoria told the gathering, “Sadly, these legacies are being lost. Thousands of years of knowledge can be lost in a few decades as one generation does not pass it on to the next. I needed to capture the integrity, virtue, culture and variety of these people before their cultures disappear.” A series of in-depth documentary films created by Vorreiter and set for release in 2011 and 2012 will serve to further this goal.
Victoria explained the title of the exhibition to the crowd at the Tamarind Village, “Patterns refers to the garments that people wear in their daily lives and at special ceremonies, passages refers to people moving through space and time as people who live close to the earth survive day to day, season to season and through the cycles of their lives. Finally ending with prayers, which refers to the festivals and ceremonies which show the people as they honor the gods of their world.”
“My journey has been filled with great joy, at times I’ve been humbled other times I’ve been challenged.” Victoria told the group.
Her exhibit is on show at the Tamarind Village until April 30. Vorreiter’s traveling exhibition Songs of Memory will open at the Chiang Mai Cultural Center from
February 12-April 30, 2010. A dynamic conference on tribal culture, history, and beliefs will bring the exhibit to life through a series of concerts, presentations, demonstrations of traditional practices and a food festival.

Visitors enjoy the photographs on display at the Tamarind Village exhibit of Victoria Vorreiter’s photographs.

The performers, Victoria, Ajarn Vithi Phanichpant, Vichien Phongsathorn, Chairman of the Premier Group of Companies, and Tamarind Village General Manager, Naphat Nutsati. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)


Silk collectors celebrate

Ra Mata Sirikul offers unique Phrae Wa silk

Story by Shana Kongmun, Photos by Supoj Thiamyoj
Thai silk is famous throughout the world for its lovely textures and designs but the uniquely beautiful hand made silk of Kalasin province called Phrae Wa has to be among the silk collector’s prized possession. This hand woven and hand stitched beautifully crafted, each with their own individual design, is now available for silk lovers in Chiang Mai at the newly opened shop owned by Kalasin native Ramida Sirikul and her German husband Andreas Schaetze.

Phra Kru Sunthorn Pattanasith annoints the shop in the traditional ceremony meant to bring good fortune for the new owners.
Ramida explained that she developed her love of silk, and for Phrae Wa silk in particular, growing up near Ban Phon, famous as the location of Phrae Wa silk. She explained that each piece is handwoven and then hand-stitched with unique designs. The more intricate the piece, the longer it can take to craft, up to a year for the most intricate and decorative pieces that can cost as much as 30,000 baht.
Phrae-Wa silk is produced only in Kalasin and by the ‘Phu Thai’ tribe. The wonderful quality and the unique colorful designs make it the most famous of Kalasin handicrafts. Shawls made from delicate Phrae Wa silk were given to the spouses of delegates to the recent 15th ASEAN meeting in Thailand. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit has promoted Phrae-Wa silk at Bangsai Arts and Crafts Center since 1977.

Ramida Sirikul shows off a magnificent decorative piece of Phrae Wa silk. This piece was hand woven and stitched and took more than a year for artisans to complete. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

The newly opened store, on the main road to Mae Rim in San Sai, is the only place in Chiang Mai to offer this renowned silk. The store sells not only pieces of silk but clothes made from the delicate fabric as well as Mudmee silk and uniquely dyed cotton pieces, done in the incomparable Kalasin style. Andreas explained that many of the beautiful pieces of silver jewelry his wife wore were designed by either her or her friend and that individually designed silver jewelry set with semi-precious stones would be sold in the beautifully decorated shophouse. Renovated with all natural materials and decorated with teak antique furniture, they plan to expand their shop to include freshly made organic juices, teas and coffees for the discriminating silk and cotton aficionados that will surely flock to see their distinctive and beautiful products.

Phra Kru Sunthorn Pattanasith, the abbot of Wat Phra Non temple in Mae Rim district, ties holy threads on the wrists of the shop owners, Andreas, Ramida and their son Andrew, so as to bring good luck, happiness and prosperity to their family and business.

Pretty girls perform the traditional Thai dance Fawn Leb,
or the fingernail dance, famous for the 6 inch long brass fingernail
extensions that the dancers wear while performing.

Ramida Sirikul and Andreas Schaetze, join guests of honor in front of the newly opened Ra Mata- Sirikul shop on the Mae Jo Road in San Sai on December 27.



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