LOCATION: Ayutthaya, THAILAND
CAMP: Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal
The name Noppakhao stands for "the nine colors of gemstones". The name "Plai" is used in Thailand for all male elephants. Noppakhao, also known as Peter, is the son of mother, Rasamee, and father, Ngathong. He has a particularly beautiful physical structure and is already showing spotting and pigmentation, which is unusual for an elephant of Noppakhao's age.
Noppakhao began painting four years ago and is already exhibiting a wonderful sense of dexterity and control with the paintbrush. Pipat has been working with him as much as he can in the spare time. As such, Noppakhao has begun to excel at complex compositions, such as some floral designs of a very unique quality.
The majority of works by Noppakhao are done on elephant dung paper. The paper is created on the grounds of the Kraal. It is beautifully textured, odorless, and environmentally sound. With 90 elephants on site, each of which eats an average of 300 -- 500 lbs. of food daily, one can surmise that a fair amount of cleanup would be necessary. There has been a new movement as of late to reuse this elephant by-product in larger elephant facilities throughout Southeast Asia. The dung is processed, bleached, screened and dried into a papier-mache type material. The beautifully textured result is being used to create a variety of wonderful products such as paper, picture frames, bookmarks, jewelry boxes, even hats. Yes, "art from both ends of the elephant".