Carved Wood Products
Carving and shaping wood through the skilful use of hands and chisels is an ancient craft that is enjoying a resurgence thanks to growing market demand for hand-crafted souvenirs. With supplies of hardwoods like teak drying up due to Thailand’s ban on logging, artisans are turning to woods in their locales, recycling old mango, jackfruit and mulberry trees, bamboo and coconut shells into attractively carved products.
Ban Tawain in Chiang Mai is the wood-carving centre of the North, where communities artfully carve wooden panels, often using recycled teak from old barns and houses, into intricate wooden murals depicting scenes from Thai literature or nature. Here the production of authentic-looking imitation antiques has become an artform, while woods like jackfruit and mango are carved into elephants, lamps, salad bowls and other exquisite objects.
Villagers in Nakhon Nayok province, who make a living from selling giant bamboo, used to discard the stumps until the community devised a way to carve them into funny faces. Now a new industry carves daces and other designs, turning bamboo stumps into mugs, vases and lamps. Coconut shells are also being given a new use, with communities cutting, shaping and polishing the shells into utensils, bowls, cups, giblets, even necklaces with a natural speckled finish.
Wild theptaro wood in southern Thailand is renowned for its fragrant aroma, and communities have taken advantage of this attractive feature to carve it into wooden flowers, souvenir animals or even vases.