In this web site you will find information about a special type of metalwork called Nielloware. A variety of civilizations throughout the world have created numerous examples of niello. In these web pages the main focus is on Nielloware produced in Thailand, one of the last places where Nielloware artists create outstanding examples of this type of work.
Nielloware is the ancient art of applying an amalgam of metals to carved
portions of a silver object to create silver or gold patterns against black
backgrounds or vice versa. There are varied opinions among scholars and artists
about the origin of Nielloware in Thailand. However, there is no consensus
among scholars about how this art reached Thailand, or if it was developed
in this kingdom.
Since early times, niello served the purpose of underscoring the authority of people in positions of power. As such, it was one of the preferred forms of presents to the king, and to persons in high positions. Additionally, it became a tradition to present international dignitaries, foreign nobility in particular, with Nielloware articles.
In the 20th century, King Rama IX, and especially H.M. Queen Sirikid initiated efforts to stimulate the production of Nielloware, and other Thai traditional arts and crafts, in order to conserve a treasured waning art as well as to provide farmers and unskilled workers with an alternative source of income. These royal efforts have been supported also by government initiatives, such as the creation of standards for niello work.