The Black House, Chiang Rai: A Photo Tour of Baan Dam

Thawan Duchanee's dark masterpiece, Baan Dam, also known as The Black House, is located 10 kilometers north of Chiang Rai's city centre. The fifteen black houses that make up Baan Dam's site are filled with dark sculptures and animal remains arranged in an impressive and uniquely photogenic display. It is the opposite of his teacher's Wat Rong Khun, a picture of heavenly purity with its glistening white buildings, south of the centre.

The main house of the dark Baan Dam is a large wooden structure with a multi-tiered roof that has protruding spikes that look like devil's horns.
The main house of the dark Baan Dam is a large wooden structure with a multi-tiered roof that has protruding spikes that look like devil's horns. | Source
Baan Dam, Chiang Rai. The main house contains a dark-colored seat made of buffalo horns and animal hair.
Baan Dam, Chiang Rai. The main house contains a dark-colored seat made of buffalo horns and animal hair. | Source

The Main House of Baan Dam Chiang Rai

Inside the main house of Baan Dam are massive tables decorated with animal fur, snake skin and shells. Dark-colored chairs made of animal horns and skulls surround the tables. Accenting the opaque furniture are stands that are made up of peacock feathers. The opaque decor and the gruesome choice of material make up a decadent lair for an evil lord of the house.

Large windows with intricately carved details surround the house, creating a lovely frame around the dark creations of Chiang Rai's Black House.


The back of the chair is made up of buffalo horns. It is decorated with a white horned skull that contrasts with the furniture's opaque coloring.on the table is a line of white shells. Behind the chair are the fringes of peacock feathers.
The back of the chair is made up of buffalo horns. It is decorated with a white horned skull that contrasts with the furniture's opaque coloring.on the table is a line of white shells. Behind the chair are the fringes of peacock feathers. | Source
Intricately carved pillars of ghouls and demons line the interior of The Black House.
Intricately carved pillars of ghouls and demons line the interior of The Black House. | Source
In another section of Baan Dam's main house is a peaceful white Buddha on a golden throne as if a reminder that there is a piece of heaven awaiting in the midst of hell.
In another section of Baan Dam's main house is a peaceful white Buddha on a golden throne as if a reminder that there is a piece of heaven awaiting in the midst of hell. | Source
The Rajasi, a creature that is half lion, half dragon, lies in the middle of the table as if it is guarding it's contents.
The Rajasi, a creature that is half lion, half dragon, lies in the middle of the table as if it is guarding it's contents. | Source
Intricate carvings line the center window of the main house. Outside the house is a beautifully arranged rock garden.
Intricate carvings line the center window of the main house. Outside the house is a beautifully arranged rock garden. | Source

Smaller houses can be found behind the main house. their opaque facades are lined with white ornamental carvings and animal skulls. More animal parts can be found in these houses. One house even has the skeleton of an elephant.

Not all of the animals residing in The Black House are dead, however. In the middle of the garden is an opaque birdhouse with living birds. Perhaps this is another depiction of salvation in the midst of hell?

Smaller houses can be found in the compound.
Smaller houses can be found in the compound. | Source
Statues of Garudas welcome you at the entrance of this small, dark house.
Statues of Garudas welcome you at the entrance of this small, dark house. | Source
The door is guarded by a horned creature and cannot be entered.
The door is guarded by a horned creature and cannot be entered. | Source
Beside one of the houses is a line of identical black jars and ladle, a very domestic and traditional arrangement which seems to contrast with the rest of the decorations that are found in Baan Dam. This could be a symbol of life before death.
Beside one of the houses is a line of identical black jars and ladle, a very domestic and traditional arrangement which seems to contrast with the rest of the decorations that are found in Baan Dam. This could be a symbol of life before death. | Source
The covered area outside the main house is filled with chairs, wardrobes and pillars decorated with more skulls.
The covered area outside the main house is filled with chairs, wardrobes and pillars decorated with more skulls. | Source

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Since there are no written descriptions or explanations in the Baan Dam, the symbolism behind this massive work of art remains to be a mystery. Perhaps the artist leaves it up to the tourists to find the symbolism behind his work.

Whatever message the artist wishes to impart, the uniqueness of this massive exhibit is worth seeing. It is quite a trip from the center of town but this well-hidden gem is worth finding.

A markerBlack House, Chiang Rai -
Chiang Rai, Thailand
[get directions]

Baan Dam, The Black House, can be found on one of the small streets along Phaholyothin Road.

From the main road heading to Mae Sai, turn left on the street after the Korean restaurant advertised on the board. Beside the advertisement is a blue sign with the artist's name.
From the main road heading to Mae Sai, turn left on the street after the Korean restaurant advertised on the board. Beside the advertisement is a blue sign with the artist's name.

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