Silver is the repository of Hilltribe wealth, and is worn as jewellery. Old silver coins, from India, Burma, French Indochina, China and Thailand, have traditionally been an important source of the metal for village silversmiths.
This is unfortunately a skill which is fast disappearing; the silversmith is beating a coin into a rounded button, using a buffalo horn that has been drilled with deep, smooth holes. Silver buttons of all kinds are an important decoration for much hilltribe clothing.
Basketry is an important village craft, employing mainly bamboo and rattan. Fast- growing bamboo is, in fact, the most common- place construction material found in the hills and is used in everything from houses, bridges, and fences to delicately woven items. Increas- ingly, hilltribe basket markets are finding a ready market for the products in the local towns and in Chiang Mai.