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Home » Crafts » Textiles
Crafts - textile weaving

Textiles

The ways in which people produce fabric reveal a great deal about their superstitions, religious practices, and relationship with the environment. Few were more connected with their ecosystem than the Mekong people of Lanna. Lanna weavers would use common raw materials such as cotton for everyday items whilst reserving silk supplies for special garments and ceremonial banners.

Fragments of cotton, silk and jute discovered at Ban Chiang, Northeast Thailand, suggest that the Lanna textile tradition began around 700 B.C. Ancient illustrations at the Viharn Lai Kham, Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai Old City, and the viharn at Wat Buak Khrok Luang offer a historical record of the Lanna textile tradition.
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Lanna weaving gained worldwide recognition 4 centuries ago, when Europeans discovered the quality of Thai silk and the ingenious cultivation of mulberry trees and silk worms. It is likely that they were fascinated by Lanna fabric as, unlike Western garments they were seamless, uncut, and without fastening mechanisms. Instead – as they often still are – they were produced in 40-inch squares or rectangles that were folded joined or tucked to form phaa nung or phaa sabaai and held in place with elaborate silver belts. To this day the Karen of Greater Lanna employ traditional, frameless back strap looms, wrapping the threads around the feet and back to use their bodies as frames.
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In modern times, frame looms without fly shuttles and the skeiner are adapted. These new devices allow artisans to keep up with Western trends and to create loom-woven scarves, clothing and upholstery. Within the broad and constantly evolving category of Lanna textiles are three important Tai groups of Northern Thailand; Tai Yuan, the Lao, and the Tai Lue, each of which wear a distinctive style of garment, often a way of determining village, clan, area, or a prominent weaver’s creative agenda.
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Lanna’s diversity of textile design, in terms of composition, approach and method, is accredited to its richly diverse population. Members of different ethnic hilltribe groups occupying Chiang Mai’s mountainous areas such as the Meo of Doi Suthep and the Palaung of the lowland regions all conform to varied and deep-rooted conventions. Traditional Lanna weavers, exclusively female, were expected to master complex techniques such as the weft ikat, the supplementary weft, and the weft brocade, or jok, before puberty. Traditionalist Lanna societies considered an unwed woman unfit for marriage unless she could produce a phaa nung and a phaa sarong for her and her future husband’s future wedding.
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Modern garments made in the traditional Lanna style fuse present with past in a tapestry of ornate pattern work and Yantra (religio-geometric) symbolism. Some of the more usual Yantra are the Tantric diamond and the naga, which reflect the spiritualistic beliefs of the weavers. Many Lanna traditions continue to this day, significantly the wearing of an indigo-dyed seua maw hawm on Friday’s. It remains true that older members of a community wear more subdued colours, where the young wear vibrant colours decorated with extravagant embroidery. Colour, as much as pattern, is at the heart of Lanna textiles. Traditionally, colour dyes were extracted from local plants and herbs. This natural pallet included red from the Lacca beetle, brown from the Ironwood tree, orange from the achiote seed, yellow from the jackfruit, green from the Myrobalan tree and blues from indigo.

Textiles Showcase

Men’s Cruise Collection Women’s Cruise Collection Puang Tong Silk Brocade Indigo blue

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