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NOVICA Artisan Sompong

Sompong

“Hi! My name is Sompong. I’m from the Pattani province of Thailand. I live in a rice farming village, where I am head of the bamboo weaving club.

“Rice and jaggery (cane sugar) farming are the primary occupations of this village, because rice fields and palmyra palm trees grow well together; palmyra palms are typically planted at the edge of rice fields. They decide which palm tree should belong to which rice field’s owner by the direction of its trunk; if the palm bends over someone’s rice field, then they own it. However, some palm trees stand straight; in these cases, the owners of both adjacent rice fields have to share. If one of these farmers made money from selling their jaggery, they would have to share the profits with the other farmer.

“Besides the palmyra palm trees, there is another plant that the villagers like to use: bamboo. Bamboo can be used to make ladders for climbing palm trees, containers for plant nectar, spatulas, mats, baskets, walls for rice barns, as well as sugar bowls. Other bamboo tools include sickles and rice-winnowing baskets, both of which have a deep connection to a farmer’s way of life.

“Both the men and the women in our village weave from bamboo. Men usually craft things such as fish traps, fishing baskets, or coops, while women typically craft threshing baskets, trays, or honey pots. Almost every house involved with jaggery crafts grows at least two clumps of bamboo for making ladders and other useful equipment. After crafting their equipment, they can weave small products for selling, allowing them to grow more bamboo.

“We have a special weaving pattern called pikul, or “bullet wood flower.” It is Thailand’s traditional decorative flower, meaning "Best Wishes," and it is widely used to worship Lord Buddha and other spirits because we believe that the pikul is a flower from heaven. Due to its multitude of petals, the pikul flower also represents prosperity and wealth.

“Now, my weaving club continues to create handwoven items in our free time, which helps improve our economic situation by providing extra income. Our special weaving patterns are passed from generation to generation; some are taught directly, while others are observed from the environment or developed through trial and error.

“Our village is a peaceful local society. The rice fields and palm trees are a part of our daily life, and we hope our unique products will be your favorites. Thank you.”