Photo of the week
Chiang Mai is a city full of artisans of various sorts. Here are a few photographs of various artists and some of their products.
While walking through the night market I saw this man carving beautiful flowers out of soap before hand painting them. Some of the flower pedals were very fine and seemed like they would break quite easily. Although the soaps were usable they looked more like art and I think it would be a shame to ruin them by actually using them.
Also in the market I saw this lady making Temari balls by sewing various designs over a central ball. We had a long chat during which she explained the art and a little bit of history of the Temari balls, her website gives a good summary of it www.temariball.com. She told me the story of how she came to work on the Temari balls and I was very interested so she allowed me to take a photograph of her working on one of the balls. She is the only person making these balls in Thailand as they are a predominantly Japanese art traditionally given as gifts.
She was selling them as ornaments, but a ball like the one she is making below would take her about 4 days to make using her own designs, thereby putting these decorations in the category of art in my opinion.
Here is a photograph of some of the finished Temari balls.
When we went to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep there were two groups of traditional young Thai dancers performing in their colourful costumes. The girl below performs with the extremely long finger nails, in this case fake.
The other group of dancers was more mixed in age and costume, but no less interesting to watch. Dancing in such hot temperatures can be quite tiring, and girls took several breaks which is when I took this photograph.
At the steps leading up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep there were several young Karen girls playing and asking tourists for donations in exchange for photos. The Karen people originally come from Myanmar/Burma where there are three groups, the White Karen or Sgaw, Black Karen or Pgo and the Red Karen or Kayah. Different groups have different religions and there is some amount of tension amongst them especially those still living in Burma. The Burmese government sought to turn the Karen against themselves in order to weaken their gorilla fighting efforts. As a result quite a few of the Karen fled to Thailand and walk through major tourist areas selling merchandise to earn money. This little girl was fascinated by something one of the tourists was showing her.
This little Karen girl was sitting there sipping on a drink her mom gave her, and she looked so relaxed and comfortable. I ended up give her a donation because I felt that it was the right thing to do in this situation.
In one of the hotel lobbies that we walked through there was a musician playing the Khin, which is a Thai version of the Chinese yangqin but smaller. The Khin is played with two bamboo sticks and can be played solo or in an ensemble. In this photograph the young lady was playing by herself and looked very serene. I had to use a single strobe through a Lumiquest Softbox 3 as it was getting to be too dark. I wished to I had a warming gel to put on the flash, but unfortunately I left all my gels back in Australia for which I was kicking myself.
Just outside the tailor where we got some clothes made there was a man selling roti. It smelled so good and we couldn’t resist having one.
The way the man made roti was almost like art, and they tasted so good. Egg and banana may not sound good, but it was delicious especially when he put some butter and sugar on it.
I really liked his mustache which was quite serious and would be well received at any Movember event. He managed to pull wearing it off quite well.
It was interesting to see how many locals and tourists went to the Sunday night markets. There were heaps of different types of artists and craftsmen there. One of them was this police officer who was making prints out of thin silver to supplement his income. It was funny that he was still in his police uniform though. He was very focused and good at his craft.
This is the final entry based on Chiang Mai for now. We really enjoyed the city, surroundings and most of all the people who were very lovely. A highly recommended place to visit.