Rice paddy art in Chiang Rai

Rice paddy art in Chiang Rai

A bird's-eye view of three cats as unique art

Rice paddy art in Chiang Rai

A five-rai rice paddy in Son Sung Village of Chiang Rai has become a unique canvas for its owner Tanpong Jaikam and local artists to create three images of cute cats from strategically planted rice of various types and colours.

Tanpong, who runs an automobile parts factory in Ayutthaya, is a rice aficionado and got the idea for this artwork when he learned about tanbo art, or rice paddy art. It is an art form that originated in Japan where various types of rice are planted to create images on a paddy field, which can be seen from above. 

Tanpong, who is from the village and comes from a farmer's family, said rice field art in Japan draws tourists and festivals are held around them. He was always curious why Thailand, with its countless rice fields, can't grow various types of rice or more than three colours of rice.

In his quest, he learned that the Kampaeng Saen Campus of Kasetsart University had been developing rice of various colours by crossbreeding two rice strains. The university also called for farmers who were interested in creating tanbo art so he applied. He then contacted local organisations in Chiang Rai but received no support so he decided to plant rice himself from the seeds he received.    

Once the seeds grew into sprouts, he contacted the Art Bridge Chiang Rai gallery and was advised to create images of three cats to reflect Thailand's natural abundance. With help from local artists and officers from the Royal Irrigation Department, the layout of the three cats was put in the field before Tanpong, his family and local artists planted the sprouts to create the three cats on Oct 15, 2023.

It took them 10 days to finish and, after letting the rice grow for more than two months, the rice field art was ready to be seen and has been open to the public since December last year.  

The unique art is part of Thailand Biennale Chiang Rai 2023, which runs until April 30. It's at Son Sung Village, Moo 4, Ngio sub-district, Thoeng district, Chiang Rai.

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