PETCHABUREE GOLDSMITHING

The first generation of goldsmiths in Petchaburee during the 5th reign of Ratanakosin were Huan Talwanna, Cho Suwannachang and Pan Thongsamrit, who were all painters or had experience with brass ornament crafting. Up until recently, the goldsmiths in the Petchaburee family are Neung Fangsikam, Chew Bunsiri and Tongkrai Thongsamrit who are all quite elderly.  The art of goldsmithing was kept amongst family members and passed on to children and cousin only, because of the preciousness of gold and such goldsmiths were all expected to have endurance, delicacy, and concentration.

Pure gold must be used for the ornaments to ensure malleability. As for tools, the traditional tools of the past are still in use today and include taotamtong, anvil, tinsmith’s scissors etc.

The process of goldsmithing begins with beating the gold into sheets, strands or spheres which are later joined by braiding, weaving or soldering. In adition, carving, sculpturing and embossing etc. are techniques employed as well.  Finally, the finished articles are boiled to increase the quality of the gold.

Most of the gold ornaments are made for children and women.  They include earrings, necklaces, pendant, bracelets, rings, bangles, buttons, etc.

Thirty seven patterns for gold ornaments have been identified. Some of them are still made by the traditional goldsmiths are soi-si-sao, soi-hok-sao, pavalam, luk-son, tao-rang, waen-pirod etc.  These pattern are designed to replicate animals, flowers, fruits, plants, and some auspicious objects.

 

SRI SATCHANALAI gold jewelry

In the old days, some say the craftsmanship and beauty of Sri Satchanalai woven gold had the reputation of the most beautiful golden ornaments in the world.

100% pure gold was melted and then carefully pulled in to very thin golden threads, to create magnificent masterpieces.  These unique piece consisted up to 1000 shiny golden strings, woven together and strengthen with hidden melted knots.

Nowadays, the gold craftsmen from the Si Satchanalai District of Phitsanulok in Thailand still make gold ornaments the old fashioned way. On the Sukhothai-Sri Satchanalai Highway, north of Sukhothai city, there are jewelry shops scattered along the highway for several kilometers, and more shops in villages off the main road in this region. They cater mainly to Thai customers, as none of the signs are in any other language.  Most shops have their factories on the premises, so one can watch goldsmiths at work. Some of the shops advertise that their gold is 99.99% pure, but some of them are selling less pure gold (92% to 96%). In fact, most gold sold in Thailand is 23K or 96.5% gold

Nowadays, designs include stucco reproductions from historical Sukhothai sites, gables copied from Thailand’s ancient temples plus fine designs, as found on ancient pottery from the Sangkhalok period.

Lacquered gold was introduced in Thailand in the Ayutthaya Period and was produced by adding red, blue or green coloring powder to the gold in a secret mixture, so that the lacquer and the gold would harmonize. This colorful decoration uses the special coloring technique instead of precious stones. The colors are made from crushed rocks and enable much finer details on the ornaments, and the colors do not much affect the weight of the gold. The most difficult part in manufacturing Si Satchanalai gold is producing the carved design which requires exacting accuracy and refinement by the craftsmen.

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