Thai bronzeware is a little known Thai handicraft in making stone polished bronze bowls or "khan long hin," an art that has been handed down for six generations since the Ayutthaya era.
This old traditional bronzeware craft is a specialty of the Baan Bu community in Bangkok Noi across on the Thonburi bank of the Chao Phraya, a craft that has survived for more than 200 years!
The next stage consists of grinding and smoothening the surface of the bowl to refine the shape further. The bowls and trays are traditionally polished with stone to a fine glossy finish. Intricate designs are then etched on to the surface. Designs can be done on request.
All the steps in producing the Thai bronzeware have been preserved since the old days, except today, electric tools have replaced the stones for polishing.
The Jiam Saeng Sajja Bronze Factory, which produces this Thai bronzeware, is located in Bangkok Noi near the Bangkok Noi Museum. The factory is part of the OTOP program to promote traditional Thai arts and craft products.
OTOP (One Tambon One Product) is a government project to promote indigenous Thai handicraft among the various sub-districts (tambon) in the country, both for domestic sales and exports. With state support in marketing and promotions, the craftsmen can then concentrate on producing their handicraft and preserving the art.
The showroom has several beautiful pieces of bronzeware on display. These include bowls for fruits, salad, sugar and cream with elaborately engraved designs. In the workshop behind, men and women toil laboriously on producing the Thai bronzeware, beating away continuously.
Can this traditional art of Thai bronzeware be preserved for future generations?
Luckily, the workshop with its original tools for making the bronzeware is still intact. As one of the 12 old communities designated to promote tourism, we hope that efforts can be made to help restore the Ban Bu community.
All the other steps were not in progress unlike my last visit. Perhaps it’s a sign of slack demand. So I’ll have to use photos from the posters for some of the steps.
Feeding the flames
Two people sit by the fire and alternately heat and beat the metal into the desired shape
Knocking it into shape
Step 2 - Shaping up
This stage is to knock out the bumps left from the initial heating and hammering.
Step 3 - Lathe
The bowl is fitted to a lathe to smoothen out the interior and exterior surfaces.
Step 4 - Filing
Filing the mouth of the bowl to make it perfectly circular and to cut designs on the surface
Step 5 - Polishing
The stage was only added in modern times. It’s like a bigger version of the brush the dentist uses to polish our teeth! The purpose is to remove scratches and marks from the surface.
Step 6 - Final shine
In the old days, fine stones or burnt earth wrapped in cloth soaked in coconut oil were used to shine the surface of the bronzeware. Today electric polishers are used to bring the bowl to a shiny finish.
Here’s the finished product. Eight large bronze bowls take about four days and six people to complete the task.
Glittering Thai bronzeware
During my visit I noticed work in progress to build two new piers and a tiled walkway. These piers are meant for the tourist boats which ply the Bangkok Noi canal. Hopefully this will bring more visitors to sustain this old community in Bangkok
Looking forward to more visitors
I wish to thank Khun Metta and Khun Doi for their kind permission to photograph the showroom and workshop and for the information on the process of making Thai bronzeware.
Khun Metta Salanon
Tel: 662- 424 – 1689 or 662 881 7443
Mobile: 081 615 7840 or 081 838 4178
Jiam Sang Sajja Bronze Factory
133 Charan Santiwong Soi 32
Siriraj, Bangkok Noi
It’s open every day. Give a call before you visit though.
For the location of the bronzeware factory, please see map to Bangkok Noi Museum.
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