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Baan Tawai Wood Carving Fair
January 19 - February 4, 1998

The bounteous hardwood forests of northern Thailand inevitably led to the creation of a number of thriving arts and crafts based on timber, especially teak. The ornate carved teak temple gables, seen in the north, bear witness to the skill displayed by the early craftsmen. That skill has been handed down over generations, with innumerable carved hardwood products, such as doors, windows, spinning wheels, howdahs for elephant riding, and many others. The planks of raw timber have the designs drawn on by the craftsmen and the work is performed with a mallet and a wide range of specialised chisels. Some of the work is simple and quickly executed, while other pieces are incredibly ornate, and may take months to complete.

One of the densest concentrations of wood carvers is around Chiangmai, although skilled craftsmen are found country-wide. Shops in Thailand's major cities sport a wide range of wood products, from exquisitely carved furniture to more mundane items such as salad bowls, trays and table lamps. A thriving export industry has grown from these products.

One of the best known centers for wood carving around Chiangmai is at the village of Baan Tawai, just outside Hang Dong district town. Many of the carvers are farmers who spend their free time making wooden artifacts, but now there are a great many export companies established in the village, which employ carvers from miles around.

The Fair at Baan Tawai, though less glamorous than the Umbrella Festival, is none-the-less fascinating and well worth the trip to see the parades, full of color and excitement, and the displays of the wide assortment of popular goods, notably furniture, Buddha statues, dolls, animals and flowers.

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