The use of mulberry paper by people in the northern part of Thailand is related to arts, culture, custom and rites that are related to Buddhism. In Chiang Mai Province, there is the production of mulberry paper in a big sheet that is used for wrapping things and for other extensive purposes such as to make paper umbrellas, jewelry boxes and paper flowers. At present, paper work businesses have evolved to household industries. Paper works have been very popular until the capacity of paper manufacture is extended in order to produce sufficient products for exporting to overseas markets. Paper works make San Kamphaeng District and Mae Rim District become famous.
There are 3 sources of paper work manufacture in Chiang Mai Province. The first source is Ban Ton Pao Village, which is a village in Ton Pao Sub-district, San Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai Province. This village produces mulberry paper and paper works that are handicrafts from the domestic wisdoms that the locals have been passing on from generation to generation for more than 100 years. In the past, members of Ban Ton Pao Village made mulberry paper to be made as fans to be sold at Bo Sang Market, which is an adjacent village. Members of Bo Sang Communities bought mulberry paper for making umbrellas. Later, in 1973, members of Bo Sang Community began to use fabric for making umbrellas and fans instead of mulberry paper; and mulberry paper began to lose its popularity.
Consequently, almost none of Ban Ton Pao Village members produced mulberry paper. There were only few households still making mulberry paper. However, members of Ban Ton Pao Village have had attachments with mulberry paper for more than 100 years, so they have turned mulberry paper manufacturing into the career that generates incomes for their families until the entire sub-district manufactures the paper and there are many extended product lines of handmade mulberry paper in various forms and colours to meet customers’ needs, which can be sold inside and outside the country. Another source is Mae Rim District which is the production hub of paper from elephants’ dung (Elephant POOPOOPAPAPER). Currently, dung of horses and oxen and other natural materials from the wisdoms based on the wisdoms that have existed for a long time are used. In the production process, the producers will bring elephant foods to Mae Sa Elephant Sanctuary to trade with elephants’ dung some of which will be used for making mulberry paper in San Kamphaeng District. Some of the elephants’ dung is allocated to the product sales center in order to be used for demonstrating the paper making process to visitors.
The attained paper is used for making flowers, note books, boxes of note paper, sacks and bookmarks to be sold at the Elephant POOPOOPAPAPER Product Sales Center and exported to the United States of America and Canada. The production of such products helps conserving the animals because all elephants, horses and oxen and cows can eat nutrient foods that are added to the paper handicrafts that are souvenirs with stories and values. The other source is Doi Saket District. Tai Lue Village in Luang Nuea Sub-district has been making mulberry paper for 16 years. The villagers buy paper pulp from Phrae and Nan Provinces and use local materials to decorate the mulberry paper such as leaves and flowers. The products are sent to Sam Pheng Market in Bangkok. In Chiang Mai, customers will come to pick the products by themselves. Mulberry paper can also be used for making lamps, books, boxes, sacks and picture frames.