Wind chimes sounding through the northern Thai hillsides.
The buffalo is the backbone of Thailand. Tilling rice paddies. Bringing food to Thai tables for centuries.
Just like a cow bell, the buffalo bell would be draped from the animal’s neck in order to help farmers locate their wandering livestock. The old “bell” shown here has given way to ringing metal bells like the cow bells familiar to western eyes. Similarly, the prevalence of buffaloes has given way to the metal of machinery.
No doubt, the buffalo is still a mainstay in villages all over Thailand – albeit they remain in numbers only a small percentage of what they were several decades ago.
Called deng in the Lanna language, which is the mother tongue in northern Thailand, this piece of local artistry was crafted from various woods, smooth sabaa seeds and two pendants of animal bone. Today sabaa seeds have achieved minor fame as a contemporary Thai interior design item. Their brilliant sheen, extravagant size, extreme durability and rich, dark hues give them the likeness of solid masses of hardwood carved and polished into large pebbles. They are, however, entirely natural, growing in pods that look like gigantic snow peas when green and turning to dry-textured brown case with time.