Located in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai (pop. 131,000), the ‘Rose of the North’, was erected in 1296 as the capital city of the Lanna Kingdom. Craftspeople played an essential role in building the kingdom’s reputation as a wealthy trade centre, derived from its close proximity to the Ping River and major trading routes. Throughout the years, craftsmen settled in the neighbouring villages around the city and continued contributing to the crafts industry. The sector represents the major source of employment with 159 established enterprises.
The transmission of Chiang Mai’s crafts practices, including pottery, silverwork, wood carving, silk embroidery and lacquerware, has been ensured by dedicated programmes within public primary and secondary schools, such as the ‘Museum to School’ and ‘Our Area’ projects, both aimed at raising children’s awareness about the history of Chiang Mai’s crafts and folk arts. The city also fosters cross-cutting approaches within the eld, illustrated by the Lanna Expo which combines crafts, gastronomy and design.
The Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation demonstrates a strong commitment to strengthen further educational and cultural institutions to protect and promote the city’s crafts heritage. It has also launched an entrepreneurship programme, the ‘One Sub-District, One Product’ initiative, which aims to support locally produced craft products on the global market. A large number of small-scale producers, including from vulnerable communities, have already bene tted from this programme through marketing and communication capacity- building workshops.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Chiang Mai envisages:
- encouraging young people to develop skills in crafts and folk art, innovation and creativity;
- supporting the distribution of Chiang Mai’s crafts products on the international market to enhance the working conditions and quality of life of small-scale local producers;
- organising the Chiang Mai Forum on Crafts and Folk Art; a platform for local and international experts, academics and practitioners to exchange ideas about protecting and promoting traditional skills and practices;
- creating opportunities for young artists and entrepreneurs, to exchange and network with international stakeholders notably through the Chiang Mai Design Week; and
- strengthening international recognition of Chiang Mai craft products in new markets.