Traditional Treasures

By Alex Woodward 10 months ago
Categories Chiang Mai

Jarees’ shop is frequently visited by staff, interns and volunteers to increase our daily sugar intake after a long ele hike. However, on Monday afternoon I went to Jarees’ shop for a different reason. One of our short term leadership interns, Annika, provided a small number of volunteers with the opportunity to bond with the local village women through the making of traditional Karen glass bead necklaces.

A selection of the coloured glass beads that we could use to make our necklaces.

Upon arrival at Jarees’ shop the six of us (four volunteers, one intern and one staff) were invited to sit on a mat to begin our necklace making. It is very common in Huay Pakoot to have many generations under one roof. In this household, we had Jaree, her mother Neh Poh and her daughter Anchan who were ready to help. We were presented with several types of coloured beads, string and a needle made from copper recycled from an old power cord and encouraged to begin.

Adorable Anchan joining in on our class and making her own necklace.

Yellow and white are the traditional colours used for necklace making in Karen culture. I made a completely yellow necklace but no one else was shy to stray from tradition and happily mixed a range of colours on the single necklace – as you can see in the picture.

After starting, we were very quickly offered suggestions by the local women, of all ages, regarding the tricks of the trade to efficiently make a Karen Necklace with the little supplies we had. After a soothing but intense 45 minutes of beading, we gave our necklace to Jaree’s mother Neh Poh who confidently tied the strings off for us. She returned it with a ‘say manoh’, which means ‘very good’ in Pakinyaw and a ‘da blue padoh’ from us which means ‘thank you very much’.

Neh Poh tying off the glass bead necklaces.

I’ve been in Huay Pakoot for two weeks as of Sunday and look forward to another two weeks filled with traditional cultural experiences. It’s been the most rewarding experience I’ve had and look forward to sharing more of my experience with friends and family back home.

Volunteers and Anchan with their finished necklaces.