THAI TRIBAL CRAFTS

Lahu Producer Group.jpg

Thai Tribal Crafts, a member of the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT) since 2002, was established in 1973 by female American Baptist missionaries.  Because of their dedication to serve the local people at every level, including their economic needs, the missionaries decided that perhaps they could help the tribal people by seeking ways to market their beautiful craft products, which might provide them with much needed cash income.

Traditionally the tribal people have supported their families by engaging in slash and burn agriculture, which required them to move their village every few years in search of new fields when old ones lost their fertility. It is now no longer possible for them to continue this semi-nomadic lifestyle, as there are no new places to move on to. Mainly for ecological reasons the Thai government now prohibits the felling of trees and clearing of hillside land. Thus, the tribal people are finding that they have less land on which to support their families. The production and sale of handicrafts is an obvious answer to their problem, and one which does not destroy the traditions of tribal community life. In fact, handicraft production helps to restore and revive these traditions which otherwise might have been forgotten.

Seven hill tribes of Northern Thailand are involved in the project: the Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lawa, Lisu and Mien groups, as well as many women working in Chiang Mai. Each group specializes in a different tradition or product based on ancestral techniques passed down through the generations, ranging from embroidery and jewelry making to weaving and woodwork.

Over the decades the unique, quality handmade goods produced and sold through Thai Tribal have been the favorites of American military personnel, Thailand's Queen Sirikit and her court, and international tourists from around the world. More than forty years after its founding, the main objective of Thai Tribal remains to provide opportunities for improving the quality of life of the tribal people in the Northern Thailand.

We are so excited and humbled to be able to share these gorgeous handicrafts with you. (We bought some for ourselves and use them every day!)