Once an independent kingdom in the past known as Lanna, the northern region is now home to a vibrant art and cultural scene that has its origins in the diverse ethnic communities that migrated or were relocated to the area in the past. Settling in a prosperous land, these peoples brought their customs, traditions, cultures, knowledge and wisdom with them. This is the origin of the present-day abundance of “Sa’lah”, the northern Thai word term used to describe the region’s skillful handicraft or craft artisans.
Northern craft identity is distinctive for the creative ways ethnic groups used local natural abundance to fulfill their needs by making items by hand to satisfy spiritual, cultural and practical demands. Whether woven textiles, embroidery, wooden crafts, basketry, sculptures or items for ornamentation, the historical, cultural and practical elements of peoples and their crafts have intertwined to form the distinctive identity of northern Thailand.
The charm of northern crafts lies in their evident outer beauty and in their historical origins that reflect the essence of Lanna crafts. This is especially so in the prosperous cities and surrounds of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lamphun, which are home to valuable cultural heritages with long histories.