Hiran – Bowl Maker

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THE SURVIVING QUESTIONS

1. IN ONE SENTENCE, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE WHAT YOU DO?

It is very simple to explain what I do. My “work” is to conserve and preserve the traditional art of making Thai  handmade “Batt” (Monk Bowl) in order to serve and affirm my belonging to Buddhism.

2. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THANKS TO YOUR HANDS?

You need to understand first that “Batt” is a very important tool for every monk. And something like this must be carefully made because each monk owns one. Moreover, I understood how important this is in order to save our ancestor’s craftsmanship and hopefully pass it to the next generation.

3. IF YOU HAD TO SUGGEST A TEENAGER TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

I would tell them that we need to save this craft in this country together, I would like them to join my workshop and learn the processes of “Batt”.

THE SURVIVING STORY

You ask about my story, look at these pictures? This is my father (he shows me a beautiful seppia picture taken possibly 80 years ago, his teenage father in army dress, is posing together with fellow comrades in arm, he gets emotional while talking about it), he came here and started this. As for me, I do this job because it is the profession of my ancestors, passed across generations. In the past most of the families living around this area were making bowls, but now things are different. Those skilful Masters have passed away and the new generations are not really keen about learning. I must admit these days I feel quite concerned about how to save this knowledge and tradition, therefore I founded the Thai Batt Center in order to teach the young people, or whoever is interested in making the monk Bowls.

In a corner of old Bangkok, alms bowls are still made by hand for Buddhist monks. Ban Bat, or Monk’s Bowl Village, is believed to be the last community in Thailand where craftsmen still make alms bowls by hand. Travelers can visit the village, tucked away on Soi Baan Bat alley near Wat Saket.

Each bowl is assembled from eight strips of metal that represent Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Strips are fired for six hours, hammered into a curve, overlaid like spokes, and soldered together. The surface then gets polished and lacquered to a deep sheen. The Ban Bat village produces around 50 bowls a month. They range from three-inch souvenir sizes sold for about $15 to nine-inch stainless steel bowls that cost more than $65. Three common shapes are jaan (a Thai fruit), manao (lime), and hua sara (tiger’s head).

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