I started the project from my interest in the craftsmanship of the Ban bath community because this is the only remaining village in Thailand, which makes handmade monk’s alms bowls. As a craft lover, I see the cultural value of the monk bowl, which shows the idea of Thai cultural formation by Buddhism. Thus, I would like to preserve the traditional wisdom of crafting a monk bowl for being together with Thai traditional identity before dying out.
To understand clearly about the know-how of crafting monk bowl. I have been going to the workshop for two weeks to do action research by learning crafting a monk bowl from the master. I have to do training before doing my own and learned a lot of knowledge.
Firstly, the eight components of the monk bowl consist of one piece of “Rim”, two pieces of steel sheet called “Gong”, four pieces of “Lotus petal-shaped steel”, and one piece of the frame. This is the correct construction of the ancient monk bowl in terms of Buddhism.
Secondly, cutting the steel for making “Gong” and “Lotus petal-shaped steel” which is the component of a structure. In this practice, I spend an almost whole day to understand how to use steel cutting scissor to cut a “Gong” and zigzag pattern into “Lotus petal-shaped steel”
Lastly, understanding the different shapes of the monk bowl through forging seam and the correct position when forging the seam. The master told me that The crafter will sit over “Kraron”(the steel column with a circle on top). Using the left hand and right back of the knee to handle the monk bowl. Then, forging the seams in the correct position, matching the circle corners at the top of the steel column until the seams become the same texture.
After learning, I realize myself become a body of knowledge and the best container of intellectual is human because the human can contain muscle memory which other documents can not record. This project aims to accumulate the knowledge for exploring how can the wisdom of crafting traditional monk bowl survive?