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Comment by Paris En mémoire yesterday

Typology of Charoen Krung’s Creative District

As an area continuously developing since the 1700s through successive waves of migration, settlements and royal initiatives, Charoen Krung’s hard and soft infrastructures are layered with various historical, cultural and commercial influences

Hard Infrastructures

Another unmistakable place for gathering is the Grand Postal Building (ไป์รษ์ณีย์กลางบางรัก), which Long established hard infrastructures such as major arteries and buildings have been developed further through increased investment since Charoen Krung’s designation as a creative district in 2015. New BTS and MRT train extensions make it a major transportation hub, while the river that made it conducive to early trade gives this area a unique advantage for businesses to continue to prosper. As with many old districts, the long, narrow streets and small shops have discouraged large-scale urban development, keeping its underlying historical character intact.

Creative Spaces for Gathering There are a growing number and variety of art spaces and galleries around Charoen Krung.

Warehouse 30 is the most prominent. Located amongst abandoned warehouses behind the Portuguese Embassy, Warehouse 30 became a บ landmark when Mr Duangrit Bunnag (ดวงฤท่ธิ นนาค), a famous Thai architect and a key player in this district, renovated the warehouses into an art and design hub and market in 2016. His previous project, the Jam Factory, was very successful in turning another abandoned warehouse in Klongsan into an attractive art space. Warehouse 30 is home to a cafe, co-working space, art spaces, design shops and furniture store P. Tendercool, and it regularly provides public talks, events and exhibitions. It has become a creative hub for designers, artists and craftspeople to showcase and market their work.
Another unmistakable place for gathering is the Grand Postal Building (ไป์รษ์ณีย์กลางบางรัก), which was the British Consulate during the 1850s before that moved to Phloen Chit Road (ถนนเพัลินจิต) in 1940. Thereafter it was renovated and used as the headquarters of Thailand Post, marking the birthplace of Thailands’ postal service.2 In 2017, the TCDC moved its main office here with a mission to develop it as a creative district, making it a hive of creative activities and events. The CEA also plans to use abandoned spaces in Charoen Krung for art and design exhibitions – for example, Marine Police Lodging (บานพัักตำารวจนำา) and the Custom House (โรงภาษ์ีรอยชีักสาม).

Aside from the landmarks mentioned above, there are three other prominent art centres – O.P. Place, O.P. Garden and the River City Bangkok Shopping Centre, near Si Phraya Pier (ท่่าเรือสี พัระยา). The pier, the largest in Charoen Krung, is next to a bus terminal. Si Phraya Pier is also located near luxury hotels as well as connecting to ICONSIAM, the largest shopping centre in Thailand, across the river.

2  Kongma, C. (2019). Central post office in Bang Rak. The Cloud. https://readthecloud.co/grand-postal-office/

3  Bangkok River. (2020). O.P. Place. https://www.bangkokriver.com/th/place/op-place/

Comment by Paris En mémoire on April 7, 2024 at 8:51pm

Nearby the pier, O.P. Place on Charoen Krung Road Soi 38 has been a commercial building for more than 100 years, and it won the Association of Siamese Architects’ Best Architectural Conservation Award in 2008.

Currently it has more than 58 stores, mostly selling luxury furniture, art, antiques and homeware,
and is now one of the best places for buying art in the area.3

Next to O.P. Place is O.P. Garden, which was built in the 19th century and is located on Charoen Krung Road Soi 36. In 1936, it was turned into the first polyclinic in Thailand, where Dr Boonsong Lekagul (นายแพัท่ย์บุญิส่ง เลขะกุล) worked as a medical practitioner. 4 O.P. Garden was also the private residence of Dr Boonsong, who later became a pioneer of wildlife conservation in Thailand. In
2009 it was renovated by TCC Capital Land and became a shopping arcade with a focus on art,
design and craft.

River City Bangkok is another art and craft shopping centre in Charoen Krung. It was built in 1985 by the Italian-Thai Development Public Company (กลุ่มบริษ์ัท่อิตาเลียนไท่ย) and the Mandarin Oriental Group (กลุ่มกิจการแมนดารินโอเรียนเต็ล). River City Bangkok was the first commercial mall on the riverside in Thailand and it has more than 120 creative stores and contemporary galleries inside with collections from Asia and around the world.

It is also an art and antique trading centre holding RCB auctions. Since its opening there have been
more than 90,000 antiques sold in the RCB forum, a magnet for collectors and traders from around
the world.

Iconic Landmarks


Many iconic buildings are situated along the river next to well-known tourist attractions. Several of
these are heritage and conservation listed, being more than 100 years old, representing early modern, Western-influenced architecture in Thailand. For example, the Portuguese Embassy was marked out as an important creative landmark due to its cultural significance, architectural heritage and contemporary street art on the front wall. Its presence indicates the long relationship with Portugal, as many Portuguese have settled here since the 1760s.

The colonial-style building, which was designed in 1860 using local materials, welcomes visitors and provides tours. Another landmark is Custom House, built in 1886 in a neoclassical style, which was used as a customs office and hosted royal events in its banquet hall until 1959. It later became Bang Rak fire station (สถานีดับเพัลิงบางรัก) and then remained empty until 2019, when the owner, the Treasury Department of Thailand (กรมธนารักษ์์), began work with the Fine Arts Department of Thailand (กรมศ์ิลป์ากร) to restore the building, which will continue until 2025.

Charoen Krung Road Soi 30 (ซอยเจริญิกรุง 30) or Captain Bush Lane (ตรอกกัป์ตันบุชี) is an important
historical area of this district that housed early Western settlement. The name hails from John
Bush, a British sailor who lived on this lane and worked as the head of the Marine Department of
Thailand at the end of the 19th century. Captain Bush Lane connects to the main Charoen Krung
Road where House No. 1 (บานเลขท่ี 1) is located.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on April 6, 2024 at 4:41pm

It is the first house number in this district, with a unique blend of Thai-Western neoclassical design,
making it a landmark venue for hire. Contemporary landmarks are also noteworthy – for example, standing tall behind the Grand Postal Building is CAT Tower, where the Communications Authority of Thailand and Silpakorn University (มหาวิท่ยาลัยศ์ิลป์ากร) are located. Many design and digital media students mingle here with other workers that use it as offices. Some unusual places have also become tourist attractions.

Sathorn Unique Tower (สาท่รย้นีคท่าวเวอร์) was planned as a luxury apartment complex but was abandoned in the 1997 financial crisis and became home to itinerant squatters. Urban myths sprung up that it was a haunted building and it has since become an unusual tourist destination.

Tourism is a key driver of Charoen Krung’s creative economy. While the area has historically attracted affluent visitors and foreign travellers, its emergence as a creative district has attracted more cultural tourists to the area.



Its riverside is populated with luxury hotels, such as Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, the first hotel here, with a 150-year history and famous for its hospitality service training in Thailand. Other well-known hotels within the vicinity include Shangri-La Bangkok, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Lebua. Most riverside hotels have their own private piers in order to shuttle their guests between the east and west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

Religious and Educational Structures The diverse cultures are reflected in various clusters of schools, churches, temples, shrines and mosques that exist side by side, reflecting Charoen Krung’s historical settlement. Religion has always been an important aspect of life here so it’s no surprise that schools are strongly linked to religious organisations. These infrastructures serve people with different beliefs, mainly Christians, Muslims and Chinese. Assumption College and Assumption Convent, both located on Charoen Krung Road, are Catholic schools next to Assumption Cathedral (โบสถ์อัสสัมชีัญิ บางรัก) – a key landmark in the area.

These schools provide education to the Christian communities that live nearby. Other schools include the Bangkok Christian College (โรงเรียนกรุงเท่พั คริสเตียนวิท่ยาลัย), Sajja Pittaya School (โรงเรียนสัจจพัิท่ยา)– which is a Chinese (Cantonese) school built in 1919 – and Buddhist schools such as Satree Wat Mahaprutharam Girls’ School (โรงเรียนสตรี วัดมหาพัฤฒิาราม) and Wat Mahunnopparam School ( โรงเรียนวัดมหาพัฤฒิาราม), which is reported to be the first public school in Thailand.

Talad Noi (ตลาดนอย) in the north has a mix of Chinese, Catholic and Vietnamese buildings. The Holy Rosary Church (โบสถ์กาลหว่าร์ หรือ วัดแม่พัระล้กป์ระคำา) was built for the Portuguese Catholic community, the Vietnamese Temple (วัดญิวนตลาดนอย) there celebrates Mahayana Buddhism, and the Chow Sue Kong shrine (ศ์าลเจาโจซือกง) is one of the oldest Hokkien shrines in Thailand.

Other buildings include Hong Wong Kun (ศ์าลเจาโรงเกือก หรือ ศ์าลฮอนหว่องกุง) for Hakka descendants, the Muang Kae temple (วัดม่วงแค) for local Thai Buddhists, and the Haroon Mosque (มัสยิดฮาร้ณ) for its strong Muslim community.

These religious institutions are also important places to learn traditional arts, such as Arabic
calligraphy, which are taught to children in the community at the Haroon Mosque. Famous for
its Islamic art, it also provides classes to the public.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on March 9, 2024 at 3:41pm

Transportation Infrastructures

Charoen Krung Road is the main artery through the district, connecting Yaowarat and Rattanakosin Island (เกาะรัตนโกสินท่ร์). The Charoen Krung area is walkable, allowing visitors to explore tourist landmarks, cafes and galleries. From the Grand Postal Building where the CEA is located, it is only around a one-kilometre walk to the Saphan Taksin BTS station (สถานีสะพัานตากสิน), situated at a prime location on the riverside, adjacent to Surasak station (สถานีสุรศ์ักดิ), Chong Nonsi station (สถานีชี่องนนท่รี) and Sala Daeng station (สถานีศ์าลาแดง), where the main business areas are located. Saphan Taksin station is Charoen Krung’s main transportation hub and the most crowded skytrain station in Bangkok, with more than 27,000 commuters. It was built in 1999 as the terminal station on the Silom Line, though now that line extends to the Thonburi area (ฝั่ั งธนบุรี) and terminates at Bang Wa station (สถานีบางหวา). The congestion and increased demand have led to plans to expand and reconstruct Saphan Taksin station.

(Street art around Talad Noi neigbourhood)

Charoen Krung has other access points, across Taksin Bridge and Taksin Bridge Pier. Built in 1980, Taksin Bridge, also known as Sathorn Bridge (สะพัานสาธร), crosses the Chao Phraya River
connecting Bangkok and Thonburi, providing the shortest route to reach the busy areas of Sathorn
and Silom Road. Commuters using the Chao Phraya Express Boats (เรือด่วนเจาพัระยา) travel to
Charoen Krung, Sathorn and Silom using Taksin Bridge Pier.

Soft Infrastructures

As one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Bangkok, Charoen Krung has a rich, diverse mix of cultures,
communities and languages, shaped by various waves of migration. Grounded and nourished by
strong and stable community groups, new creative businesses and communities are increasing in
number since Charoen Krung’s designation as a creative district. The area is experiencing the
benefits and challenges of this influx of new people, including tourism, accelerated by the
creative opportunities provided by the area.

The TCDC and CEA

The Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) was founded in 2004 as part of the Office of
Knowledge Management and Development, reporting to the Office of the Prime Minister
(สำานักนายกรัฐมนตรี) and originally located at the Emporium shopping centre in the Phrom Phong
area (ย่านพัรอมพังศ์์) on Sukhumvit Road (ถนนสุขุมวิท่).

The TCDC is a public-facing organisation to raise awareness about the value of design, and support creative activities and businesses. It is active in organising events to connect designers, suppliers and clients, with seminars that encourage creative development and showcase the latest design trends. It acts as a key connector in the creative ecosystem, providing services such as a design library, material library, exhibition spaces, designer network and database. Its relocation to Charoen Krung in 2017 aimed to drive the urban renewal of the area and develop it as Bangkok’s first creative district. In 2018, the TCDC expanded into a larger organisation with the new task of encouraging the creative economy, and was renamed the Creative Economy Agency (CEA).

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 29, 2024 at 8:15pm

Festivals, Event and Markets

There are many activities all year round in Charoen Krung that bring local residents and visitors
together. Markets, events and festivals are a chance to see the diversity of cultures, experience
a range of foods and learn about crafts, beliefs and lifestyles. These activities can be grouped into
cultural and creative events.

Cultural events include community walking tours, the Vegetarian Festival (เท่ศ์กาลกินเจ), the Ancestor Worship Festival (เท่ศ์กาลสารท่จีน), the Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year (เท่ศ์กาลหยวนเซียว), which have mostly been organised and led by local communities. These events are important opportunities that draw the community together, strengthen relationships between different generations and pass on traditions from the older to the younger. For example, the Chow Sue Kong shrine regularly has many events and festivals, beautifully decorated during such occasions to perform rituals and dragon dance. Regular fresh markets also serve different communities.

Prominent creative events include Bangkok Design Week, TEDxCharoenkrung, art and design
exhibitions and the Awakening Bangkok festival of light. These are notable for making Talad Noi
an attractive area for visitors, and in turn, what was just a residential Chinese neighbourhood has now become a prominent cultural tourist spot in Bangkok. Most creative events are supported by
governmental organisations such as the CEA and Thailand Tourism. Bangkok Design Week5 is
significant to the development and sustainment of the creative district. It generates a lasting and
memorable impact and also brings market opportunities to the creative businesses. Events such as this are part of a creative economy development plan by the CEA. These public events take place in prominent locations introduced under hard infrastructures, such as the Grand Postal Building (headquarters of the CEA), Warehouse 30 and also in other venues such as the River City Bangkok shopping centre, O.P. Place and O.P. Garden

Enduring and Sustaining Various Cultural Communities

Charoen Krung has one of the oldest communities in Thailand, based on a solid relationship built over more than 150 years. These enduring communities represent the largest groups of people who live together, take care of each other and share similar beliefs and practices. As noted already, cultural and creative events become important mechanisms to transfer local wisdom from
generation to generation. Retaining a strong sense of community is unique in an ever expanding megacity such as Bangkok, which in turn is vital in regenerating rich social capital.
This is expanded upon in the next section.


Building Social Capital in Charoen Krung

As an urban neighbourhood in Bangkok, there is a large and complex ecosystem with many actors
involved. Characteristics that were identified in these actors that enabled the sustainment of this
ecosystem includes acting as a connector and introducer, being collaborative, relatable, genuine,
local, trustful, sustainable and contributing to the organisation of events. The workshop with its
residents identified a complex social network of individuals, communities, businesses, educational
institutions, public and private sectors that form Charoen Krung (p. 86, fig.2). From this, two key
features of social capital stand out in shaping the ecosystem of the creative district.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 27, 2024 at 11:12pm

Bonding in Communities

Bonding relationships are strongly evident in various older communities in Charoen Krung. Like a family, these bonds and relationships are important in maintaining a sense of trust and belonging. Participants from both the Haroon Mosque and the Talad Noi communities shared how they cherish community knowledge, culture and history.

Most members of the Haroon Mosque

community are blood-related with extensive kinship ties. The leader of the Haroon Mosque
community is considered a father, a senior brother and an uncle to those in the community. He is also a key connector to organisations such as the Bang Rak District Office and universities. His son
teaches Arabic calligraphy at the Haroon Mosque as a way to pass on the knowledge and techniques of Islamic art. Similarly, Talad Noi is a close-knit Chinese community with a 200-year history in the area. The majority who live here have Hokkien roots and their bonding relationships also reflect their lineage.

The leaders of the Talad Noi community collaborate with public sectors and organise creative events such as the Awakening Bangkok festival of light, as discussed earlier. Bonding relationships can be a double-edged sword if they are insular and inward-facing, relying entirely on family networks. This has been identified as a barrier in developing new relationships with others, preventing new information and resources to be exchanged.6

Similarly, this study has observed how the bridging relationships between the leaders of the two communities is tenuous, even though there may be informal and serendipitous mingling amongst the rest of the community through markets and festivals. Respective leaders of each community had never met each other until a workshop was conducted by the researchers, revealing how little they knew about one another.

They reasoned that they had no formal ways to connect or collaborate. Their communities are
located in different districts – the Haroon Mosque community is in the Bang Rak district while the
Talad Noi community is in the Samphanthawong district. It appears that such district divisions have
not been conducive to working together, even when they are involved in organising festivals. Such
siloed structures of bureaucracy are well-known barriers for collaboration and creative innovation.7

This lack of bridging relationships may further explain a lack of connection between the old
Muslim, Chinese and local communities and the new creative groups who are starting to establish
themselves in the area. The workshops revealed how local businesses and communities were not
connected well horizontally, indicating a need and opportunity for local government and the CEA to
broker such links more effectively in the future.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 25, 2024 at 1:21pm


Linking Between Organisations


The CEA is arguably the main driver of creative activities, with a mission to boost the creative
economy and activities in Charoen Krung. It plays a vertical, linking role in channelling resources and
people to encourage collaborations and investments from within and outside the district.

This can be observed in the successful renovation of Warehouse 30, noted as a key creative hub earlier, and hosting Bangkok Design Week by working closely with a number of local businesses in the area as well as external organisations to set up events and activities. The CEA does well in bringing groups of artists and design students, freelancers, studios and start-ups from outside Charoen Krung to showcase their work in noted creative spaces such as O.P. Place, River City Bangkok and House No. 1. The CEA’s multi-sector links, including private businesses, universities and public sectors such as Thailand Tourism and district offices, make it an important and powerful agent. Such observations allow this study to affirm that policy and central government initiatives through the CEA are largely responsible for Charoen Krung’s development as a creative district, in contrast to other districts studied – where development is attributed to local, existing and emerging cultural and creative assets.

Yet as discussed in the previous section, the CEA may need to play a stronger bridging role to connect horizontally between local businesses and communities by capitalising on their effectiveness in organising events. While businesses are more likely to connect vertically with public sectors such as the CEA, Thailand Tourism and district offices, they will need more assistance to connect with local communities and build on opportunities to work together to avoid potential divisions and inequality in access, wealth and knowledge – as seen in fragmented communities globally.8 The Co-create Charoenkrung project, initiated by the TCDC, was a welcome example of bridging constructively.

The TCDC organised various listening and co-design sessions with the community to learn what residents wanted to improve in their neighbourhood. This resulted in prototypes and models of some of the ideas that the residents came up with, such as providing signage to allow easier navigation through the neighbourhood, creating green pocket spaces, connecting alleys, rejuvenating and repurposing old buildings and redeveloping the riverfront.9

Key Characteristics of Charoen Krung ’s Creative District

Examining Charoen Krung through multiple dynamic layers and assets allows this study to arrive at the following assessment of the role of this particular creative and cultural district. A Govenment-Designed Creative District Investment, resourcing and strategic planning by the Thai government are central to Charoen Krung’s public recognition as a creative district.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 25, 2024 at 1:20pm

The CEA‘s mission to model Charoen Krung as its flagship creative district, to learn from and develop other cities around Thailand, provides strong motivation. The CEA is playing a key role in linking public and private sectors such as the district offices, Thailand Tourism Authority, local businesses and communities, so the district can headline major festivals such as Bangkok Design Week to engage with a broader national and international creative network. This is undoubtedly succeeding in boosting creative activities in the district, in turn attracting a diversity of talents, start-ups, business ventures and tourism – and generating further cultural, social and economic capital.


Building on Deep and Diverse Cultural Roots

Charoen Krung has one of the oldest communities, having multigenerational settlements for more than 200 years. Family-like bonds within communities are further anchored by established educational, religious and cultural institutions, housed within heritage buildings that have etched various architectural and ethnic influences over the decades. These places maintain the community fabric by continuing to be spaces for gathering, learning, sharing and celebrating traditions, identity and knowledge that enable creative practices such as Islamic art, calligraphy and dragon dance to be passed on. These cultural assets are inspiring a new generation of creatives to set up events and businesses in restored heritage buildings, allowing them to enjoy the markets, participate in festivals, attend exhibitions or socialise in cafes, bars and restaurants. Peppered along narrow streets, these cultural pockets are a rare find in contrast to the congested and densely developed urban environment.


Sustaining Trade Centres

Charoen Krung Road continues its 19th century heritage as a centre of international trading. The
area is adjacent to major business centres served by vital arteries such as the Chao Phraya River,
Silom Road and Sathorn Road, where time honoured establishments can be found – such as
the Siam Commercial Bank, the Bangkok Bank, the Jewelery Trade Centre and new business districts containing law firms, insurance companies, banks, fine dining restaurants, luxury hotels, spas andhealthcare centres. While some businesses may have moved their headquarters elsewhere due to lack of space and parking issues, many still see importance in maintaining a presence in the area.

With excellent transportation links and proximity to many different types of businesses alongside its
growing creative credentials, Charoen Krung is an attractive place for start-ups and design studios to
operate from.


Executive Summary

Sakon Nakhon

Located in Isan (อีสาน), Thailand’s largest region, and surrounded by lakes, rivers, wetlands,
mountains and extensive farmland, the province of Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) is famous for its
indigo-dyeing and textile-weaving production. Its capital city, also called Sakon Nakhon, was
awarded the title of Craft City from the World Craft Council in 2017, and is gaining international
recognition for its naturally dyed textiles.(pg.88)

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 24, 2024 at 7:55am

This age-old craft, developed in close relationship with the land, was transmitted through the generations until modern production technologies of industrialisation overshadowed traditional practices. Thanks to a small number of pioneers, however, the craft was revived during the 1990s and has evolved since into a vibrant creative scene combining local wisdom with modern design influences. The renewed interest in traditional techniques, indigenous knowledge and environmental sustainability has instilled new energy into other sectors, such as agricultural production and sustainable farming.

In the past ten years, Sakon Nakhon has been developed on the basis of its agricultural resources. There has been a continuous increase in creative activities and businesses developed  by citizens who moved back after working in other cities and regions. Since 2016, there has been rapid growth in creative networking and businesses around Sakon Nakhon and surrounding areas. Sakon Hed started out as a network of creative entrepreneurs involved in developing locally branded products that are modern, natural and sustainable. The network hosts the annual Sakon Hed festival (เท่ศ์กาลสกลเฮ็ด),

which has now become the biggest creative event in Sakon Nakhon. The festival aims to promote local wisdom, products, services and brands as well as raise awareness of the growing creative activities in this region.

The uniqueness of Sakon Nakhon’s creative scene is in the somewhat disperse nature of its members.

Traditional weaving communities are distributed across the province, while a growing base of returning talent gathers every year at the Sakon Hed festival, driven by an interest in crafts as well as a commitment to Sakon Nakhon and its traditions. Close relationships such as familial bonds and friendships are the drivers of fruitful collaborations: families and community groups can rely on shared resources to sustain their businesses, while a network of friends and volunteers can mobilise enough resources to create a yearly gathering during which ideas are exchanged and collaborations are arranged. As Sakon Nakhon gains prominence as a creative district in Thailand, the focus is on balancing environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Sakon Nakhon is famous for indigo dyeing and textile weaving. Sakon Nakhon is one of the largest provinces in northeast Thailand, at 9,600 square kilometres. Its history can be traced back more than 2,000 years through fossil and archaeological records. During the tenth century, Sakon Nakhon was called Muang Nonghan Luang (เมืองหนองหารหลวง) and was a major city of the Khmer Empire, until a long drought led to its depopulation. It then became part of the Lan Xang Kingdom อาณาจักรลานชีาง) from the 14th century and had a close relationship with the city of Vientiane in Laos. During the time, Sakon  Nakhon was known as Chiang Mai Nonghan ( เชีียงใหม่หนองหาร) and was influenced by Lao cultures and traditions. During the Rattanakosin period, King Rama I (who ruled from 1782 to 1809) renamed the city Sakon Tawapi (สกลท่วาป์ี), which later changed to Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร), meaning the City of Sakon.

[pg94] Sakon Nakhon is known as a cultural and religious city. There are more than 400 Buddhist temples.Many of them are Dhammayuttika Nikaya (นิกายธรรมยุต) or Buddhist forest monasteries (วัดป์่า), which focus only on scriptural study of the earliest existing Buddhist texts and meditation practices.

Comment by Paris En mémoire on February 19, 2024 at 9:55am

Famous Buddhist forest monasteries include Wat Pa Sutthawas (วัดป์่าสุท่ธาวาส), the temple of Buddhist master Mon (หลวงป์้ ่มั น), and Wat Pa Udomsompone (วัดป์่าอุดมสมพัร), where the relic of Fun (หลวงป์้ ่ฝั่ั น) is kept. There are well-known annual Buddhist events supported by local government, such as the Wax Castle Festival (ป์ระเพัณีป์ราสาท่ผู้่ ง) and the Boat Race (ป์ระเพัณีแข่งเรือ) at the end of Buddhist Lent Day (วันออกพัรรษ์า). All of these events involve local artisans – for example, to create the beeswax castles and decorations on boats, and perform traditional dance and parades.

The current population of Sakon Nakhon Province is around 1.1 million, and there are approximately 113,000 residents in the city centre. People here speak Isan, which is a Thai-Lao mixed language used around northeast Thailand. There are six different tribes in Sakon Nakhon – Saiyor (ไท่รญิอ), Taiyoy (ไท่โยย), Taiso (ไท่โส), Taikaleang (ไท่กะเลิง), Tai-Loa Isan (ไท่ลาวอีสาน) and Phutai (ภ้ไท่), the last one being the largest and oldest tribe in the area. These tribes have their own dialects of Isan language and have been engaged in traditional weaving practices of both silk and cotton for generations. These traditions have very much shaped the creative and cultural fabric of the region.
1Chanorn, C. (2016). Self-transformation strategies of development: The emergence of indigo dyed textile entrepreneurs in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand. Thammasat Review, 19(2), 1–21.

Sakon Nakhon is famous for indigo dyeing and textile weaving. Due to the abundance of the indigo plant along the Songkhram River (แม่นำ าสงคราม), which flows through the province, villagers have developed local wisdom and know-how to produce indigo-dyed textiles in a variety of patterns and styles. Indigo-dyed textile production declined in the Isan region during the mid-19th century due to
synthetic dyes and industrialisation.1 Farmers switched from growing indigo to more economically viable plantations such as rice, rubber, tapioca, cotton or sugar cane. Villagers, including women, started migrating to cities, reducing the number of agricultural labourers and weavers while swelling the ranks of factory workers. Without women to transmit or inherit the skills of dyeing and weaving, traditional indigo textile production gradually disappeared.2

Without women to transmit or inherit the skills of dyeing and weaving, traditional indigo textile production gradually disappeared.

Indigo-dyeing products on display at Mann Craft However, since the 1990s the indigo industry has experienced a revival. During and after the economic crisis of 1997, various initiatives were introduced by the government to stimulate job creation in the rural sector and incentivise workers to return to their hometowns. In this period, the idea of ‘local wisdom’ emerged as a central concept for the revitalisation of many artisan sectors, including agriculture, food, traditional medicine and crafts. Many of the pioneers of the indigo craft revival discussed in the case study started operating in this decade, initiating a new era of indigo production that brings together tradition and innovation. Owing to this revival, the processes of planting, harvesting, fermenting, dyeing and weaving have been passed on over the centuries, and indigo has become the key cultural identity of Sakon Nakhon. Indigo products embody traditional craft knowledge and practices, enabling relationships between different groups to be sustained – local community weavers and designers educated outside of the province, producers with a wealth of traditional knowledge and new consumers.

愛墾網 是文化創意人的窩;自2009年7月以來,一直在挺文化創意人和他們的創作、珍藏。As home to the cultural creative community, iconada.tv supports creators since July, 2009.

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