Name: Baan Bat Alms Bowls

Address: Bamrung Meuang Rd, Soi Baan Bat, Bangkok. (Next to Wat Saket).

Opening Times: 8am – 5pm.

Price: Prices start at approximately 600 baht for the smallest bowls and can be bought directly from the families.

BTS: Not located near a BTS or MRT

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Ban Baat is an ancient neighbourhood of Bangkok, where traditionally local artisans hand crafted alms bowls to be purchased by the faithful and donated to monks. Monks all over Thailand use these bowls to collect donations from their local communities.

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However, due to the introduction of factory made bowls for monks the tradition of hand made bowls is slowly dying out. Only five families remain in the area carrying out the traditional methods. It’s worth taking the time to visit all five families.

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Whether you are buying bowls or are simply interested in venturing around the area, you will find the locals extremely warm and friendly and enthusiastic about showing you how they are produced.

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You may even get the opportunity to try making the bowls yourself and helping them out, but don’t expect to make the whole bowl yourself as it takes an artisan a whole day to make one of these spectacular bowls!

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The word ‘Baan’ means monk bowl, and the word ‘bat’ means community. It takes 21 procedures to make one of these bowls. First of all a steel rim with two steel strips forming a cross is welded together.

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It is said that this shape originates from Buddhist folklore. After Buddha achieved enlightenment, four guardians (each representing one of the cardinal points) offered him an alms bowl. As Buddha could not show favour to any of the guardians, he joined them together to make one bowl. The cross shape on the base of the bowls therefore represents the four cardinal points.

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Once the frame is complete the gaps between the strips are filled in with steel and melted copper wire. It is then hammered into shape and polished.

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Although the soi can be a little bit tricky to find, the walk through the winding alleys around soi Baan Bat is worth the wonder in itself. A lovely way to spend an afternoon or morning.