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Bangkok Travelbug April 15 Court Dolls Centre Ban Bang Sadet
March 30, 2015

Court Dolls Centre Ban Bang Sadet

Welcome back! This month we explore Ang Thong province and visit one of the handicraft centres in Ang Thong, the Court Dolls Centre in Pa Mok district.

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Ban Bang Sadet, Pa Mok district, Ang Thong province

This sub-district in Pa Mok district was originally called Ban Wat Tan. In late 1975 during the peak of the rainy season, the Chao Phraya burst its banks and flooded the area very badly. On 4 January 1976, Their Majesties the King and Queen visited the area to distribute aid and to boost the morale of the flood victims.

What’s more, a royal project was initiated by HM the Queen for the benefit of this community. In gratitude the community renamed the sub-district Ban Bang Sadet, (sadet – royal visit) .

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Court Dolls Centre

Ban Bang Sadet is primarily a rice growing area but the hardworking residents made joss sticks and bricks in their spare time to augment their income. These activities were however insufficient to tide them over these hard times.

HM the Queen started a royal project for the residents to make miniature court dolls. Such a project not only preserves the traditional arts but also becomes a cottage industry to help residents improve their incomes.

Two art teachers were despatched to the community to teach residents the art of making clay dolls dressed in the attire of the royal court. The training centre was established in the multi-purpose hall behind Wat Ta Sutthawat.

The first group of 150 residents went through the training course of three months. The traditional Thai building where this training was held became the Court Dolls Centre in Ban Bang Sadet.

The Court Dolls Centre is in the building on the right

The Court Dolls Centre in Ban Bang Sadet operates as a cooperative. Members go to the centre to make their dolls and socialize with their neighbours as well. The completed products are priced and put on display.

Display of miniature dolls

When the products are sold, a small percentage is deducted for the administrative costs of the centre and the rest of the proceeds are paid to the residents responsible for the products.

These works of art are relatively inexpensive and considering the effort and skill that went into making them, definitely worth it. I bought these wooden sticks that serve as bookmarks for 20 baht each. Just look at the intricate work that went into making the dolls attached to the sticks.

Wooden bookmarks

For an idea of how small these dolls are, here’s a picture to show the relative size of a typical doll compared to a paper clip.

Slightly over an inch or 2.5 cm

Let’s find out how these dolls are made.

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Steps in doll making

There are four main stages in making these miniature dolls.
  • Stage 1 Preparing the clay - The clay is soaked in water for about seven days to make the clay malleable, the water is strained off and the clay is ready for moulding.

  • Stage 2 Moulding the clay into shapes – The clay is now moulded into the desired shapes. Usually the head of the doll is moulded first then the body and lastly the arms and legs.

    Moulded clay dolls

  • Stage 3 Heating the dolls – The dolls are now placed in a furnace to be heated for three – four hours.

  • Stage 4 Painting the dolls – The dolls are soaked in paint usually white, to provide the base layer. This is to ensure the subsequent coats of paint can be absorbed. When this base layer is dry, various colours are applied according to the type of doll or object made.

    Painted fruits on boats

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Displays in the Court Dolls Centre

Here are some of the beautiful dolls made by the residents of Ban Bang Sadet. They have also diversified from court dolls to dolls of people in everyday life.

River boats and barges

Boat vendors

Miniature flowers

Boat vendors selling fruits

Traditional Thai house

Market scene

Traditional Thai musical instruments


Besides miniature clay dolls, the centre sells wicker baskets too.

Wicker baskets

So the next time you are thinking of a day trip out of Bangkok, think of dropping by at the Court Dolls Centre at Ban Bang Sadet after which have lunch at Khun Kung’s Kitchen at Phae Rim Nam Resort.

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Map to the Court Dolls Centre

If the map doesn’t appear click on this link


Court Dolls Centre
Wat Ta Sutthawat
Tambon Ban Bang Sadet
Amphur Pa Mok
Ang Thong

Tel: 66 35 868 317 mobile: 66 6 1494 0538

Opening hours

The Court Dolls Centre is open every day from 0900 – 1600 hours.

How to get to there

By car

Ban Bang Sadet is about 90 km from Bangkok. It’s a little over an hour’s drive from Bangkok. From Bangkok head north along the Bang Pa-In – Pak Kred Expressway that passes Chaeng Watthana. Then branch off to highway 347 which will lead on to highway 309.

Once you are on highway 309 look out for the sign indicating the turning to Ban Bang Sadet on your left. The centre is located near Wat Ta Sutthawat.

At this white chedi, turn left to the road to the Court Dolls Centre

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Next month

Temples in Ang Thong

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Till next month then.

Eric Lim
Tour Bangkok Legacies
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