New Perspectives on Lan Na Lacquering: The Reflection of Traditional forms in Contemporary Lacquer Objects

Sumanatsya Voharn


Lacquering is a distinctive Lan Na handicraft, which has existed for more than twelve centuries in northern Thailand. Traditional lacquer objects in the North of Thailand, called “Kreung Kheun” have two principal functions. First, the lacquer is used for coating bamboo houseware in order to make them water resistant. These products are light in weight and practical for daily use. Second, lacquer used to decorate objects with expressions of traditional beliefs. However, a changing way of life, influence from other cultures and globalization are gradually affecting Lan Na lacquer production The traditional knowledge of lacquer techniques has been disappearing because of decreasing numbers of lacquer artisans and raw materials. This practice-based research can be divided into two parts. First, it analyses the relevance of the field of study in order to understand the Lan Na people’s traditional perspectives and beliefs towards lacquer objects, as well as the problems of Lan Na lacquer development. Second, it explores new perspectives that have been used for creating new lacquer objects. This research attempts to analyse the acoustic properties of lacquer and materials, and utilizes traditional design forms when studying the creation of new objects
The research outcome presents a new perspective by developing a line of contemporary lacquer objects “Acoustic Lacquer Accessories” (an adaptation from the traditional wooden pulpit to lacquer acoustic accessories). This presents a new perspective in Lan Na lacquer objects as a way to describe, conceptualize, and analyse Lan Na cultural characteristics through new “Traditional” form.

Key Words: Chiang Mai; Lacquerware; Lan Na; Product design; Acoustic

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