Thailand's only kris maker custom made this for me in the deep south province of Yala

85mm, F8, 1/200th, ISO 100


There is much to Thailand the casual tourist never sees.  And there are other parts of Thailand that even the seasoned expat never sees.  One such place is the insurgent South.  I would never recommend anyone venture down there on their own just to say they've been there.  On the other hand there are some very worthwhile venues to visit in the south and one is the master kris maker in Yala.

This is the only master kris maker in all of Thailand.  I've been to his home and inside his workshop and met his family.  I own several of this works of art, several purchased and one received as a gift.  To watch this dedicated Muslim family at work and in life is truly a privilege.  Recently a client asked me if I could arrange a workshop to Yala where we could meet this family, photograph them at work, and perhaps even arrange to carry back a personal kris.

In all honesty I hesitate.  It's okay for myself, but to take the responsibility for others in such a violent and dangerous area would be both costly and require strict planning and adherence to the plan by all involved.  Considering the cost and required strict obedience would people still be interested in such a workshop?  Perhaps.. there are many great things to see and I could arrange for all of them.  A visit to the master kris maker, the bigger mosques and temples in the area, and exposure to the unusual and interesting people of the south.

This image is significant because I've discovered a suitable method for processing which shows the multiple layers of this hand hammered steel blade.  A blade that can take more than 2-3 weeks to form as it's folded over and over again.  Each layer hammered until it melds into the previous layer.  A blade which is purpose designed to reflect the spiritual side of it's intended owner.  The intricate detail of this blade combined with the strength and flexibility is representative of the people of the south.


The kris masters workshop in Yala Thailand

85mm, F8, 1/200th, ISO 100


I always emphasize to take the best quality image you can in all circumstances.  This is a relatively boring image many would delete from their camera before even returning home.  Captured in 2005.  I could see with my eyes in the changing light so much more than I was able to photograph without a proper macro lens and studio lighting and even then I wasn't sure.  I didn't have this equipment with me anyway, so I was left doing what I could with what I had in my bag.

Five years later while reviewing a new piece of software, the inherent capabilities of the software prompted me to remember these images.  Fortunately I had taken great care in the selection of my lens, depth of field, and focus.  The resulting image in my humble opinion is striking.  I hope you agree.