The idea of the Thai Hill Crafts Foundation under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Srinagarindra was ignited in 1972 by the beautiful and unique ethnic handicrafts in Northern Thailand. The foundation was set up to buy handicrafts from the various hill tribe villagers at fair prices and sell them to the public.
In 1973, another important project, the hill tribe youth training program, was initiated to provide knowledge and vocational skills that would enable hill tribe children in remote areas to return to their villages and improve the way of life there. The youth participants would board at the MFLF compound. Aside from their regular classes at schools and colleges in Chiang Rai city, they were taught basic academic and life skills that could help the students become dedicated, ethical leaders of their communities. The compound was called “Rai Mae Fah Luang” [Mae Fah Luang Plantation] that cultivated – not plants – but people.
Later, when the government’s rural development projects reached more remote areas, Rai Mae Fah Luang was turned into a center for Lanna arts and culture, and now houses the region’s most extensive collection of Lanna artifacts, and is officially known as the “Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park”.