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Oub Kham Museum
The Oub Kham Museum, located in the Den Ha market area of Chiang Rai, is the vision of one man, a private collection acquired over the years by art connoisseur and teacher, Julasak Suriyachai. There are no cold and antiseptic hallways, where paintings and sculptures have been aligned in carefully air-conditioned rooms, under the watchful eyes of guards. It is something quite different, a friendlier, more informal place, where for a bit of time, you can stroll among assorted treasures of the ancient Lanna Kingdom.
You are walking into a unique place as you enter the gate to the property. Pushing aside the tendrils of vine hanging down from the massive gate, you enter into a well-kept garden area, next to a wooden sala and bubbling waters in a stone fountain. This is the entrance to Suriyachai’s home and museum.
Attendants come out to greet you, take your donation, and guide you about, answering questions as they lead you through the various rooms, which contain jewellery, photos, royal regalia, Buddhist art, and all manner of costumes from the various parts of the Lanna Kingdom. Pieces come from all over the former kingdom — Burma, Northern Thailand, Laos, Southwest China and Vietnam.
The “Oub Kham” is a golden bowl used by members of royalty. That, and other bowls are on display (hence the name) as well as the complete set from the golden throne of Chiang Tung (the present Keng Tung in the easternmost Shan State in Burma).
Pieces are separated by room. The first room is mainly jewellery, while the second room displays religious artefacts. The third room is costumes, Lanna and Hill-tribal, and the final is the golden throne. While tidy in its displays, there’s a sort of haphazard display of materials going on here as well, (there are no signs), which lends to the informality of this museum experience.
Khun Julasak is the founder of the Lanna Heritage Conservation Centre, the seed of the museum. The setting itself is beautiful enough to have inspired several couples to wed in the grounds, and the museum has a sort of cottage industry in this regards. Staff dress in period costume, the bride and groom are given Lanna-style clothing to wear, and traditional dances and songs are performed. There is a sizeable lawn, and the surrounding wooden buildings and artwork lend a regal air to these events. Couples usually perform the “Bye Si” on the Golden Throne itself.
 
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