The Prabathuaytom Community
Phra Bat Huai Tom village lies on the outskirts of
a town called Li, in Lamphun province in Northern Thailand. This is where the Karen hill tribe people live their peaceful and simple way of life in close connection to Buddhist practices and virtues.
The beauty of this place exists within the people who emanate the calm, sincerity and perseverance that shows in their life and work.
Adhering to the 5 guidelines of the teachings of Phra Kruba Wong, a revered monk who guided the Karen Hill Tribe people to do good, behave properly and improve their way of living. Everyday and from everywhere you can hear the sound of prayers,
the hammering resonation of the silversmiths at work and festivities related to merit-making that represents their most common social gathering.
Beauty of Mindfulness
Simple hand tools such as stones, hammers, a block of wood that require little to no electricity have always been common items utilized in Karen silver jewelry making. In addition to that, the most important aspect that allows a silversmith to realize a beautiful piece of work is to be found in one’s mindfulness and perseverance. Traditional silver making process requires high attention to details and can be most tedious. For example, making of a single string of silver beads requires all the family to work together.
It can take up to a full day of work for a family of 3 to make about five pieces of 45cm long strings of fine grain silver beads.
We wish for our jewelry creations to be a source of encouragement, a suggestion for whoever is wearing it to find the mindfulness within and the ability to concentrate in every moment of the day.
We hope the products can pass on good energy, the creativity and the energy that has been put into the work in order to obtain each piece.
About Karen Silver
Our silver products are hand crafted in 95-98% Silver by Thai Karen hill-tribe artisans. The Karen are a group of ethnic peoples who reside primarily in southern and southeastern Burma and in northern and north-eastern Thailand. Thai and Burmese hill tribes can be traced back to the 12th century when they are said to have originated from Tibet. With a higher silver content than sterling silver, Karen silver has a weight, bright satin color and feel, all of its own. Every piece is handmade and individual.
Our Sustainable Approach
For the past few decades, Thailand has theorized its own unique sustainability framework—sufficiency economy philosophy— that is recognized worldwide, as well as by the United Nations. It is based on the Buddhist worldview on interrelationships of economy, society, and environment.
THE SUFFICIENCY ECONOMY PHILOSOPHY (SEP)
Three interrelated components and two underlying conditions are central ideas to SEP.
The three components are: Reason (or wisdom), Moderation, and Prudence
Two essential underlying conditions are: Knowledge and Morality
The sufficiency economy is a philosophy of development based on moderation, prudence, and social immunity, one that uses knowledge and virtue as guidelines in living and that can contribute to better and more sustainable outcomes that can not only apply to agriculture, but as a principle also to other occupations and lifestyles (in craft design field as well).
The main idea focuses on the idealistic notion that, in general, individuals, families, organizations and countries will enjoy more happiness and better outcomes when virtues prevail.
The first concern is the mindset of reasonability: self-awareness of what we are good at, what we do well, what completes us and makes us happy, what we do better than others and thus positively affects others, the community, the society, even nature.
The second concept takes into account moderation and the comprehension that engageing in a certain kind of cause will result in a similar kind of result – the principle of karma.
The third is social immunity – to be prepared for any situation we cannot control and plan for the worst case scenario. If we know that we are not prepared and skilled in a certain area (such as knowledge, language, technology, financial management), we should find a way to close that gap.
Two essential conditions are knowledge and virtue. We should have knowledge, deep understanding, do things with perseverance and not give up while at the same time think of others without taking advantage of anyone.
In summary, it is to act consciously, know oneself, walk the middle path with perseverance, strive for what is right, not only for ourselves, but also for broader benefits, in line with the principles of Buddhism.
The sufficiency level differs for each person, so we should do what is right for us and help each other.
Together we can go further and this will take us towards sustainability.
We wish for our jewelry to be a source of encouragement,
a suggestion for whoever is wearing it to find himself, be mindful, and concentrate in every moment of the day while contributing to the opportunity for Phra Bat Huai Tom community to remain truthful to their culture and beliefs, bringing about the proudness to be Karen Hill Tribe and to pass on the heritage that connects to mindfulness.
We invite you to join us on this journey of doing what we believe most, in the best possible way. We hope to learn more along the road so we can keep growing, doing good for others and for the cause we believe in.
Stories of Silver&Silk was created by Lucija and Titapa, who share a vision to work in the design field with a specific dedication to help preserve local knowledge and traditions. Each design piece tells a story (hence the name) of who created it or how it was born, thus connecting the artist and the product with the customer.
The infinity spiral motif that inspired design of our logo comes from the traditional back ornament used by Dong and Miao tribes. In many cultures a spiral is symbolizing the never ending cycle of life that has neither beginning nor end and has been widely used by numerous Asian ethnic minorities.
People Behind the Products
The Master Silversmith
After having worked as a chef in Bangkok as a youngster, he decided to come back to his hometown to work in farming and silver making in order to be able to be with his family and community.
Nid & Tae
The Apprentices in silver making
The two youngest newcomers who are interested in silver making and crafting as a career. They want to be able to earn a proud and adequate income while living in their hometown and staying in the community.
Lah & Deang family
The Master in rice grain silver beads making
The sole family in Phra Bat Huai Tom who still produces the 1 mm grain silver beads. Their ancestors have been doing this for centuries. It is a an fatiguing process, as the tiny beads will only make 5-6 strings in one working day.
Lung Chae & Pa Tiloo
The Silversmith and the Threader
The couple who often give a hand in our workshop. Silver making is their source of income during the off harvesting seasons.