An intriguing Wood Carving Art Gallery in Chiang Mai

Many foreign visitors to Chiangmai, making their way out for a day of elephant riding and white water rafting in Maewang Province along the Chiangmai – Sanpatong Highway, are often intrigued by strange signs on the road side but, being unable to read Thai, they flash past this colourful destination not realising they’ve missed one of Chiangmai’s most interesting attractions – a veritable Aladdin’s cave of spectacular and rare wood carvings and priceless pieces of pottery, called Ngarn Anurak Pueh Muan Chon which in English means ‘place of preservation of wood carving for the people.’
Its owner, Mister Charoui Na Soonton , a former school teacher has been collecting these historically important relics for the past thirty five years and the place is a veritable maze containing thousands of pieces of treasure trove.
Over the years Charoui has spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money in his crusade to preserve the art of fine wood carving. About twenty years ago the industry was in crisis as supplies of teak wood were dwindling and it looked as if the art of wood carving would consequently die out with the trees. He toured the country buying up fine examples of the wood carvers’ skill so that they would be preserved for posterity.
He also visited remote villages where he collected old pieces of teak such as cart wheels, old boats and dead tree trunks which he brought back home to recycle, having his small staff of master craftsmen transform them into masterpieces. Old wood is better than new as it has stood the test of time and its darker colour gives the pieces a more antique look.
You can find his colourful museum between kilometres 19 and 20 on the Chiangmai – Sanpatong Highway – just past the Big C supermarket at Hang Dong.
For more directions, give Mister Charoui a call on 053 355 819 or 089 8500 126, or email him at na_soonton@hotmail.com