The Artisans: Silver

About the Karen Hilltribe

People Over a century ago, in search of freedom and wealth, nomadic hilltribes migrated south from Burma, Tibet, and Laos, to settle in Thailand. The largest group, the Karen tribe, called “Kariang” or “Yang” in Thai language, migrated from Burma (Myanmar). In the 1970’s Thailand’s Royal Family initiated a project in the Golden Triangle region, to provide alternative sources of income to the hill tribes in this area based on their traditional arts. Due to Karen’s history of working with silver, silver experts were sent to help them become master silversmiths.

The Karen people hand forge their tools and stamps, and use them to create floral patterns and symbols that draw on their inspiring beliefs of harmony with nature. Only by using high-purity silver (approx. 97%- alloyed with copper) can these tools sustain hours of use without breaking.

The Karen people continue to live in their communities, maintaining their traditional way of life. Their children attend a village school where they learn to speak Thai, while their families continue to work and live, freely speaking their local dialect. A network of co-operatives and cottage industries provide direct export opportunities to the international market. We source many of our designs from traditional tribal jewellery, then, working closely with the Karen artisans, modify them, changing proportions, to imbue them with a contemporary aesthetic that is accessible to western sensibilities. Once the silver arrives in Canada, it is prepared, cleaned, polished, and assembled using western-standard jewellery wire and findings.

Print Email