Ban Bat. Bangkok’s Monk Bowl Village.

Morning alms ceremony, Chiang Mai.

All over Southeast Asia, the morning alms ceremony is a wonderful sight. Each morning, Buddhist monks walk around their neighborhoods to receive food offerings from members of the community. The monks carry metal bowls called ‘bat’ to receive their food donations. The bowls, which for centuries were made by hand, are almost all now produced in factories. And many of the communities that used to make these bowls have vanished…except for Bangkok’s Ban Bat, the Monk Bowl Village.

Bangkok’s Ban Bat is the last of a series of villages established in the 18th century by King Rama I to create the monk bowls. Their bowls are beautiful. And it is amazing to watch craftsmen from the three remaining families work. Each bowl is made from eight strips of metal, which represent Buddha’s Eightfold Path. The metal strips is hammered into shape, soldered together, and then polished and lacquered until they shine. Each step took place at a different house along the small and twisty alleyway where the families lived. 

You can purchase your own bowls, which make fantastic and unique souvenirs, from one of the families

Amorn Kuldinksamphan, one of the last welders in Monk Bowl village.
Each bowl is made of 8 metal scraps.
Hammering the bowl into shape.
Hand polishing the bowls.

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