Phuket has a great variety of Thai handicrafts, some of which come from other parts of Thailand and some which are regional specialities. Intricate filigree leather pictures, items made from coconuts and sea shells, bronze and lacquerware and ceramics are just some of the items produced.
Some have been created by craftsmen whose skills have been handed down for generations while others are produced in factories using the latest in advanced technology and quality control. You really need to see for yourself...
Benjarong is another ceramic style unique to Thailand, usually formed into a round pot with a lid with rich colours and intricate patterns. More modern styles of this craft, which was once exclusively for the use of the Royal family, are found on plates, cups or ornamental pieces. Most souvenir and houseware shops have Benjarong items for sale.
For large earthenware jars, pottery and other ceramics including the blue and white Chinese styles, check out some of the garden shops or department stores around the island.
Bronze artwork in Thailand dates back to ancient times. Hindu deities, Thai dancers, elephants, bowls, cutlery and more are beautifully rendered using a blend of traditional and modern techniques. Many lovely items from spoons to large sculptures can be found at a bargain in Phuket's boutiques and department stores
Ceramics of Phuket and Thai Benjarongs
The makers of Thailand's distinctive Celadon ceramics use a centuries-old technique to create beautiful works in jade green, brown or cobalt blue. Bowls, tiles, teapots, vases and other items can be found in boutiques attached to major hotels and department stores. A local company, Ceramics of Phuket, produces original ceramics made from Phuket clay in absolutely stunning designs. Many of their ceramics are made to order and you'll find their products on the tables and in the rooms of Phuket's top resorts and restaurants. Their showroom is 5 minutes outside of Phuket City on the road to Kathu (Vichitsongkram Rd).
Lacquerware in Phuket
A specialty of northern Thailand, neighbouring Burma, and now Vietnam, a wide range of contemporary and antique lacquerware can be bought in shops on Phuket Island. You can find the distinctive gold and black household objects such as trinket boxes, trays and chopsticks originate from Chiang Mai, Thailand (Try Andaman Trade Centre on Srisoontorn Rd, Thalang, Tel: 076 272 304).
Some shops also carry the antique matte red cylinder picnic boxes and covers inlaid with black and/or green detail that are characteristic of Burma's lacquerware industry. More recently, the creatively coloured and decorated trays, bowls and homeware originating from Vietnam have also become available in Phuket - all of these items make an ideal, lightweight collector's item or gift.
One of Thailand's more unique handicrafts, nielloware is a traditional craft of the southern province of Nakorn Si Thammarat and therefore a good buy in nearby Phuket. Nielloware is the art of applying etched designs made from an alloy of lead, silver, copper and sulfur, onto silver or gold receptacles. Items ranging from coffee and tea sets to fittings for handbags and buttons are available in shops around the island.
Pewterware, an alloy of tin with a touch of lead, adds a classy decorative touch to any home. The silvery sheen of pewter is both subtle and longlasting, requiring a minimum of care. Anything from sturdy cutlery to large bowls or mugs with intricate engraved details are sold at most souvenir and gift shops.