Window to Chiang Mai Thailand
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The hilltribes are famous for their bright costumes and jewelry, but other artifacts such as pipes, knives, basketry and musical instruments also make desirable souvenirs. Nowadays much of the hilltribe production is aimed at the tourist market. The unique designs have made their silver jewelry amongst the most desirable of hilltribe artifacts. Traditionally, the hilltribes have valued silver as a trusted measure of wealth and the amount worn at ceremonies would show the status of the family.
Wearing large amounts of silver jewelry is still the custom at important rituals and festivals. Silver ornamentation could also have a spiritual value to protect against evil spirits. The largest pieces of jewelry are the neck rings, silver buckles and heavy bracelets, while the most decorative are the chains with silver pendants.
The silver originally came from coins which were either melted down or used directly as decoration on women's clothing. Each group had their own design, which came from individual silversmiths who would only make a few similar pieces. Most of these old pieces have been sold long ago, and the formerly important village silversmiths have all but vanished.
Modern hilltribe jewelry, much of which is produced by lowland silversmiths, is based on a mix of traditional designs.
Where to see hilltribe products:
Hilltribe Products Promotion Center
21/17 Suthep Road, Chiang Mai 50200.
Thai Tribal Crafts
208 Bamrungrat Road, Chiang Mai 50000.
Tel: 053241043 Fax: 053243943
The Lost Heavens (Tribal & Primitive Art)
234 Thapae Road, Chiang Mai 50100.
Hrs. 09:30-18:00 /21:00.
Tel: 053251551-7 Fax: 053235151
All Handicrafts of Chiang Mai