By The Nation
Asean’s rice culture came under the spotlight at the 2nd International Innovative Crafts Symposium 2014 held at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Bitect) last Thursday.
Hosted by the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SacictA), this year’s theme focused on “ASEAN’s Craft Business Challenges and Opportunities in Rice Culture”
The symposium, which allows free exchange of information about rice cultures and crafts in the Asean countries, aims to encourage craft business operators to create networks of cooperation and trade partnerships to prepare for the forthcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC).
“Rice has been a staple food for Asians since the ancient times. The essential role of rice in the way of life laid the foundations of the ‘rice cultures’, which incorporate inventions of tools and craftwork that relate to daily living, beliefs and traditions, paddy cultivation and rice consumption,” Sacict’s director Pimpapan Chansilp noted.
“These articles may share a particular utility but vary in design depending on each community. They not only reflect the culture of each locality, but are also esteemed crafts that can be developed and applied to enhance economic growth,” she added.
Dr Anucha Teerakanon, director of the Thai Khadi Research Institute, gave the keynote speech on the topic “Rice: From the Root of Cultures to Innovative Crafts”.
Prof Viboon Leesuwan, Fellow of the Royal Institute’s Academy of Arts, also gave a talk entitled “Rice Culture: Opportunities and Challenges in Craft Business”, elaborating upon the relationship between Asian lifestyles and cultural wisdoms and providing an overview of relevant craft industries in the Asean region.
Also participating in this international conference were craft experts from six Asean countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand – along with representatives from China, Japan, India, South Korea and the British Council in Singapore. All actively sharing their views in order to promote mutual understanding and the progress of craft industries in Southeast Asia.
Topics of discussion included the trends of rice culture-related products, marketing opportunities, product development and potential approaches to establishing networks of relevant agencies and countries. These focused on two product categories – pottery and wickerwork and dining textiles and utensils.
The audience was made up of several individuals involved in the craft industry including manufacturers, importers, exporters, designers, craftspeople, members of relevant organisations and associations, as well as students and the general public.