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Phase II: Regional expansion

Nakhon Si Thammarat

Inventorying objects in the temple's collection resulted in the estblishment of a small temple museum © UNESCO

Project overview and objectives
While the traditions of Nakhon Si Thammarat are still alive, they are not thriving as before due to increasing isolation from other Buddhist centres of artisan training and from the same pressures of globalization of the construction and tourism industries that affect both Nan and Luang Prabang.  The aims of the project activities in Nakhon Si Thammarat will be to preserve the authenticity of artistic techniques through documentation, and to ensure that the tradition of apprenticeships based from the Mahathat temple continue to teach to the highest traditional standards, in both handicraft and performing arts.

The Nakhon Si Thammarat project will focus on three areas:  (1) general awareness raising, (2) crafts revival, especially of crafts associated with Buddhist ceremonies and rituals and (3) preventative conservation. At the same time,  in accordance with Nakhon Si Thammarat’s long tradition as a crafts center, widening the curricula to cover local arts in existing monks and lay training institutions are part of the agenda. The project implemtation is projected in conformity with following objectives:

  • The first step will be awareness-raising targeting different groups in the community will include the deepening of courses on local arts traditions in the local Buddhist university, lay university and School of Fine Arts.  In addition, classes on conservation principles and theories may be offered at the National Museum of Nakhon Si Thammarat. 
  • Hands-on training will be offered in the following areas: artistic drawing, banana stalk carving, phra bot painting, wood carving, phanom phra making, lacquer work, yan lipao weaving, rattan weaving, silverware and nielloware.
  • Documentation of the crafts and techniques will be packaged as curriculum materials, including: textbooks, training manuals and multimedia.
  • Network-building activities will allow for sustainable implementation, by fostering greater coordination within the sangha order, local craftspersons and experts, educational institutions, NGOs and organizations throughout southern Thailand.

Based on the provisional workplan, training will be undertaken by the School of Arts, Vocational College, Arts and Craft College, Rajabhat Institute, and non-formal education centre. Training will be undertaken in the following areas:

  • Artistic drawing
  • Banana stalk carving
  • Phra Bot painting
  • Wood carving
  • Phanom Phra making
  • Lacquer work
  • Yan lipao
  • Rattan weaving
  • Silverware
  • Nielloware

Awareness-raising targeting both lay and monastic communities will be conducted by Buddhist universities, Rajabhat University and School of Arts and the National Museum of Nakhon Si Thammarat in the following areas:

  • Buddhist philosophy
  • Introduction to Thai culture and arts
  • Local history and culture
  • Conservation principles and theories

Project output to date
As the first activity in preventative conservation, a pilot temple inventory was conducted at Wat Pattasima in Had Siew district.  This temple has an ancient library of scriptures located in a pond which has been used to store various artifacts, both of a sacred and secular nature.  They have been sorted, inventoried, and properly stored with the guidance of experts with the help of the resident monks and local community.  This pilot will serve as an example for the conduct of other temple inventories in the province.

As a follow-up activity, the Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum organized a workshop on preventative conservation from 17-21 July 2006.  A total of approximately 50 persons took part (4 monks and 45 laypersons) representing temple communities which have important artifacts.  Although relatively few monks took part, the participants included lay representatives designated by abbots, such as temple committee members.  The workshop comprised both theoretical lectures, hands-on practicum of inventorying and preventative conservation techniques, and field visits to temples with both strong and weak conservation practices.  The participants felt that they found the workshop very beneficial, and suggested that there should be annual workshops, perhaps of a slightly shorter duration. They were interested to learn more from real-life case studies of actual temples.