The head fixer in Chiang Mai

In Thailand there are talented artisans for every imaginable task.

An old wooden head of a water buffalo needed to be repaired and remade. This man in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand had the skills to do it, working on the street side with a set of manual tools – and time to explain us what he was doing.


Click any picture to show it larger.

About Olli Laasanen

Eyes and ears open. New and old. Jobs and hobbies. Pictures and music. Entertaining and serious. Change and stability. Nature and urban.
This entry was posted in Artsy, Photo, photography, Thailand, Travel, Valokuvaus and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The head fixer in Chiang Mai

  1. rigbyte says:

    Most interesting. I wonder at your choice of the word artisan – damning with faint praise perhaps. The delicately carved tray that holds his large range of not so simple tools suggests he is at least as much an artist as artisan. What sort of tools would you consider not simple? Electrically powered computer operated precision instruments with the sole skill level needed from the operator being nothing but the touch of a button? This is a man to admire, physically as well as mentally. Thanks for the excellent photographs.

    • Good points, Rigby! And oh my bad English, looks like (for a native English speaker) the two words I wrote changed totally the message I liked to say.

      I did not know that using ‘artisan’ in this context was like pointing out that his work was mediocre or ever worse. I misused also the word ‘simple’: no intention to underrate the skills needed to use all the different instruments. Maybe a better word would have been ‘manual’ – this is now changed in the blog.

      • rigbyte says:

        Ollie, As usual, I’m being hyper critical and apologise for sounding somewhat terse. There’s nothing wrong with your English, it’s excellent! I’m at fault for being a bit of a pedant. I see an artisan as someone who repairs useful things or makes them according to someone else’s predefined pattern, not someone who does inferior work, but work that requires skill but little imagination or creativity. This fellow was doing more than repairing a functional item, he was re-creating an art work, so I see him as an artist-artisan or artisan-artist 🙂 As for the tools, they’re the result of thousands of years experimenting with ways to carve and craft wood by hand. Obviously well made, probably passed down through the generations. I have wood-working tools used by my father – instruments that are perfect for the job but unprocurable today in the age of power-tools and prefabricated artefacts made in China or elsewhere in Asia.
        You are very polite, as well as an excellent photographer.

        • Fine discussion we have here. 🙂

          I’m inclined to see that we both share the same underlying understanding of “artist/artisan” in this context. All-knowing Wikipedia says: “Artisans practice a craft and may through experience and aptitude reach the expressive levels of an artist.” – For me, an artisan is not only copying others work or design, but can as well be the original artistic creator him/herself.

          In this particular case, the man was clearly more repairing than creating, which is not detracting his craftsmanship. 😉

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