Chiang Mai Shopping Guides


Hilltribe Handicrafts

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The hill tribes are famous for their bright costumes and jewelry, but other artifacts such as pipes, knives, basketry and musical instruments also make desirable souvenirs.

The unique designs have made silver jewelry amongst the most desirable of hill tribe artifacts. Traditionally, the hill tribes have valued silver as a trusted measure of wealth and the amount worn at ceremonies would show the status of the family.

Wearing large amounts of silver jewelry is still the custom at important rituals and festivals. Silver ornamentation could also have a spiritual value to protect against evil spirits. The largest pieces of jewelry are the neck rings, silver buckles and heavy bracelets, while the most decorative are the chains with silver pendants.

Nowadays much of the hill tribe production is aimed at the tourist market. Modern hill tribe jewelry, much of which is produced by lowland silversmiths, is still based on a mix of traditional designs.

Last Updated: 01 Oct 2007