We went for a day out in York the other day and were pleasantly surprised to find it was the Viking Festival. There were lots of wonderful stalls selling various Viking jewelry and also clothes and weaponry, we were tempted by the bows as we have some arrows at home that we have been meaning to pair up with a bow but my husband decided he would make one of his own as he is a dab hand at wood work.
There were lots of wonderful stalls but i homed in on one that sold ethnic clothing and beautiful silver jewelry. The lovely lady whose stall it was told us that the jewelry was made by the Karen Hill Tribe people of Thialand. Thai and Burmese hill tribes can be traced back to the 12th century, originating from Tibet. The Karen tribe is the largest of around twenty hill tribes whose total population today numbers more than seven million across The Union of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.
In Thailand, around 400,000 Karen live at between 800m and 1800m up in the mountainous and densely forested regions of Mae Hong Son, due west of Chiang Mai.
Most villages are remote from Thai civilisation. Houses are made of teak or bamboo and usually constructed on stilts to provide space and shelter for livestockThe Karen villagers have few possessions and little if any furniture, usually sleeping on floor mats, cooking on open fires, and drawing washing and drinking water from a nearby river. They are predominatly farmers of agricultural produce for their own use and are often referred to as 'The farmers of the forest'. Some speak the Karen language, whilst others speak Thai.
Being between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver, Karen silver has a higher silver content than Sterling silver. It's just the solder used to fuse the silver components together that makes up the last fractions of a percent. Consequently, it has a weight, bright satin colour, and feel, all of its own. Every piece is handmade and individual. The hand-hammered and chased details are wonderful and you can actually see evidence of each piece having been formed by the hands of a Karen craftsmen.
You may have noticed they are mostly spirals! thats just me i'm afraid, i have a "thing" for spirals.