lauantai 1. joulukuuta 2012

Tribal tradition

Tribal silver in beads, pendants and charms. Every piece is handmade by native craftsmanship with individual unique designs direct from the hill tribal friends and family-artisans home or their hut and my own workshop.

Tribal jewelry is renowned for its purity, beautiful artisan crafting & exquisite designs, but the origins of this ancient art form are as “misty” as a winter’s morning in the mountains.

Being between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver, this silver has a higher silver content than Sterling silver. It's just the solder used to fuse the silver components together that makes up the last fractions of a percent. Consequently, it has a weight, bright satin colour, and feel, all of its own. Every piece is handmade and individual. The hand-hammered and chased details are wonderful and you can actually see evidence of each piece having been formed by the hands of craftsmen. These pieces are not usually hallmarked in any way.

Who are the Tribal people?
Hill tribes can be traced back to the 12th century, originating from Tibet. Around twenty hill tribes whose total population today numbers more than seven million across The Union of Myanmar and Thailand, around 400,000 tribes live at between 800m and 1800m up in the mountainous and densely forested regions. Most villages are remote from civilisation. Houses are made of teak or bamboo and usually constructed on stilts to provide space and shelter for livestock. The villagers have few possessions and little if any furniture, usually sleeping on floor mats, cooking on open fires, and drawing washing and drinking water from a nearby river. They are predominatly farmers of agricultural produce for their own use and are often referred to as 'The farmers of the forest'.


To fully understand its roots & origins we need to first learn about the hill tribe groups who were forced out of their own countries, and took shelter in the mountainous areas of Northern Thailand. For several centuries a sizeable proportion of the population of Northern Thailand has been made up of different ethnic groups, the largest of these cultural groups are commonly known as 'Hill Tribes'. There are up to fifteen groups in total. Each tribe is also divided into clans or sub-groups, which then have distinct customs, rituals, clothing & languages with common linguistic roots.

The earliest settlements in Thailand were established within the 17th century and from then until the 1960’s the tribes, who are primarily subsistence farmers who live at peace with nature and the forest, led a semi-nomadic life using
farming methods to produce rice, vegetables and opium, moving from one area to another on a seven year cycle.

It was as recently as 1969 that The Kingdom of Thailand initiated
projects to support and regognize handicraft projects for the tribal people.

These projects was set up to address the problems that were being caused by both their farming methods & also reduce dramatically their reliance on the opium crops that flourished all around northern areas at that time.

To address these problems and to also help improve their quality of their lives the King granted the tribal groups long-term permission to reside within his Kingdom (up until then they had always been just migrants, with no rights at all), they were provided with ID’s & land rights. In exchange for this the King insisted they switch farming methods & cease growing opium.

It was during the Royal Project that King Bhumibol learned of the tribal traditional handicraft and jewelry making skills which had been passed down through generations for hundreds of years.


Today tribal artisans are taught to carefully handcraft each design from scratch, using only high-content silver (97%-99% pure) & employing traditional methods & tooling.


Typically this jewellery is engraved with plants, flowers, animals, or geometric designs, symbolizing their direct connection & historical links to both the land and water.


Each handmade piece is a unique masterpiece that is the result of centuries of tribal culture and art.