Baandam Museum

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Things to do


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January, 2019

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The “Baandam Museum”:, or Black House, is located 30-minutes north of the Thai city of Chiang Rai.

The local artist, painter and sculptor, Thawan Duchanee, who died in 2014 aged of 74, was the inspiration for the series of over 40 black Thai houses dotted around extensive grounds.

The entrances to the buildings had carved wooden boards and we saw one being hand carved. The free hand design was on paper covering the wood and the carver used a series of 30 different tools and a hammer to score out the design. The piece he was working on would take him around one month in total.

Many of the buildings contained animal horns, particularly buffalo horns which had been used to create the arms and legs of chairs. Duchanee had obviously been into hunting as skeletons, including one of an elephant, were all around along with crocodile and snake skins: where people had put 20 Baht (50p) notes in the mouth of one long boa, presumably for luck.

His art work was displayed in the Baandam Gallery and showed rather disturbing images in red, black and white, although they all have Buddha images or messages contained within them. A white marble bust of the artist with his long grey beard had the head of Lord Buddha and evil spirits carved into the back of the head.

In total contrast to the traditional black houses, were what I can only describe as three large white, concrete, igloo-shaped buildings. We walked through one and found the design created interesting acoustics and our made voices deep and resonant. There was also a black concrete building which resembled the shape of a whale.

The entrance fee was a reasonable 80 Baht (£2) but it was rather a quirky place and we left feeling slightly confused about what it was all about.

Helen Jackson

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