The Barron Imports Story
This story began over two decades ago, when the importer “adopted” several tribes of the ;(formerly nomadic, now settled) Karen Hill-people from the border region of Thailand & Myanmar (Burma).
The PADAUNG(or PAH-DAWNG)tribes of the Karen Hill people; pronounced KAHRIN or KAH-REE-UNG; have long been re-known for their carpentry skills. Today they source all their materials, not from the forests as they have done in the past, but by recycling timber from old wagons, wagon wheels, old houses, ploughs& farm implements, old machinery, animal water troughs and even old boats, much of which is nearly 150 years old.
Basically anything made of wood is re-used to make these unique products. The timber is traditionally stored in the open until needed. The furniture and handicrafts are almost always made from Teakwood, with a little Rosewood and Monkeywood added in some pieces. The beauty of their handicrafts can only be found there, so are very unique. As a result, tribal populations have begun to grow again. The importer encourages the villagers to utilise each individual’s unique and personal skills to produce over 20,000 different items on a regular basis. Most of the items produced go to the United States and Canada. Some go exclusively to New Zealand, as the importer lives in New Zealand whenever he is not in Thailand.
The importer has often taken other New Zealanders to the hill-tribe villages and almost all say that it is an absolutely wonderful experience, and one, which they will never forget.
The importer travels to the remote hill-tribe villages at least 3-5 times a year, to live and work with them. There he not only helps the tribes aquire new skills, but also to help improve their general way of life andhealth. Some schools have been built, and are now so popular, that classes are rotated in shifts to cope with the high demand. Many of the tribe people now speak English, and literary skills are increasing.
Long associated with the Golden Triangle, and infamous narcotics trade; the hill-tribes no longer grow or use Opium- or any other narcotic, and are all gainfully& sustainably employed.
While a majority have clean running water, they do not have road access or electric power, but are content the traditional water buffalo cart and elephant as the favoured mode of transportation.
A regular Dental clinic and Doctors surgery now operate 3 times a month. Infant mortality; in the newborn to one year age group, has now dropped from 98% to 21%.
Recently, the importer was granted a dredging and reclamation permit along the MEKONG RIVER to gather Teak wood and Rosewood logs and roots; neither of which float due to their massive weight and density. This allows for a unique and unusual form of furniture to be crafted.
Some of the Rosewood logs dredged are 2500 years old and have been preserved in the river sediment for up to 3000+ years! The wood is so hard and heavy, that it regulary burns out power-drills and saw-blades!!
The finished product is absolutely amazing, with a character all of its own. None of the furniture or craft pieces are perfect, but they are all handmade with love and care. Therefore, they are all one-off pieces and have an age old character that is both dear and unique.
The importer has been overseeing this project for the past 28 years. He has been presented with many awards,and citation- including, in August 2007- a knighthood, from the king of Thailand, for his humanitarian efforts. He says his work with the hill tribe people will never finish. The villagers are wonderful people, who will “love you to death”, with their hospitality, and their warm smiles will make your heart melt.
Barron Imports are proud to present these uniquely handcrafted products, which Thai craftsman make from raw materials sourced predominately from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
These raw materials are very old teak and native indigenous hardwood from old bullock carts and wagon wheels, that make up the uniqueness of the furniture.
Teak is a hardwood therefore the furniture is made to be very hard wearing and strong.
The raw materials are estimated to be at least 80 years old, giving the furniture history and age old character.