About

Baan Jang Nak

Founded on 1985 by Mr. Phet Wiriya, who has a strongly passion on the art of wood carving. He was a student of the greatest wood carver in Lam Pang “Kum-ay DejDuangTa” who taught him about carving and suggested him to the beauty and meaningful spirit of Elephants.

After Phet finished learning with his teacher, he got a career in Bangkok to teach prisoner about wood carving. He later came back to his hometown and led a couple of his friends and students who also love and want to learn traditional Lanna Style woodcarving.

Phet started caved everything from earth to sky, animals, Fruits and vegetables, Scenery, Human sculpture, etc. and finally the only thing he love and happy to do was to carve elephant. He stopped everything and went to the zoo, elephant camp and everywhere that elephants live then took the pictures, sketched and drew the picture of elephants in many actions and postures. He also got a suggestion from a famous architect and art supporter, “Mr. Nidhi Satapitanond”, to the way to expressed himself into his work of arts.

On 1988, “Pra-yoon Janyawong” (1915), a famous columnist at that time, visited the house. He was very exciting to see a lot of elephant woodcarvings by Phet and his students. He named the place “Baan Jang Nak “, which means a house with full of elephants.

Phet and his team had developed the way to carve. He was the first carver who changed the way of a traditional style of Lanna elephant woodcarving which was a standing elephant with long legs and the same posture to a realistic look of elephant. He also experimented in using new materials to carve, suggested carvers who used only teak wood to carve. Cassia Wood is a local wood and easily found in Chiang Mai. They are easily found in Thailand. It is a quick growing tree and could grow in any kind of weather. Most of Thai people used its young-leaves as foods (steamed or use in the curry). Some parts of the tree are used as medicine (good for decrease blood pressure). For its wood, the only purpose is to use as fuel. Phet was the first carver who uses this kind of wood to carve even its wood is harder than any other wood, but the result came out with beauty and fantastic work of arts.
Coloring the wood is the most important thing before finishing a piece of wood carving. Chemical coloring is not the way Baan Jang Nak has chosen. Instead, color from the fruit of Ebony tree (Diospyros mollis Griff) is the first choice. Thai people use this kind of fruit for dying a fabric and also use as herb. For coloring with this way, it will take almost 10 layers of the color for each piece of work and the wood will absorb the color into itself. Finally, a color of the elephant wood carvings will look natural, realistic and of course non toxin for human and environment.

On 2003, Baan Jang Nak was named as “A Museum of Elephant Wood Carvings” and has shown many of master piece elephant wood carvings that Phet has collected since he first carved and also many of wood carvings of his friends and students during the past 22 years. Visitors from around the world came here to visit and tell the stories of the elephants in Thailand to their families and friends. As well as a willing of everyone in Baan Jang Nak who love and want to protect the real elephants and want to tell the stories of them through their works.