Silk has always been an important commodity of the Kingdom of Siam since ancient times. For a long time, the country has always held its place among major exporters of silk and silk wear thanks to its stanch production of the textiles. Local crafters and weavers have had centuries to hone and pass on their skills, making Thai silk one of the most beautiful merchandises in the market.
A luxury reserved formerly only for nobles and royalties, silk has become accessible in the market today. Thanks to its breathable and comfortable properties, the textile is a perfect wear in Thailand’s tropical climate. While sericulture is an important contributor in the country’s economy, the significance of silk is beyond the comfort or value it provides: the fabric is Thailand’s proud national heritage patronised by the court and has its roots deep in the history of the country. Silk is interconnected with religious and communal rituals and traditions, the motifs record the folklife, history and culture.
Thai silk can be roughly grouped into major classifications according to style and pattern: Pa Yok is a mono-colour fabric woven with gold or silver threads; Pa Jok designates a piece of fabric that carry colourful patterns at the bottom hem; Pa Praewa is woven from colourful treads arranged into patterns throughout the fabric; Mudmee silk has its origins in the Northeastern region (I-san) and carries colourfully dyed motifs throughout. The patterns on Thai Silk are generally related to nature, history and culture: flowers, traditional motifs, animals, geometric designs etc.
Important ateliers have their own distinctive signature: Ban Tha Swang in Surin produces traditional courtesan gold-tread Yok silk that is so complex that it necessitates four weavers at work simultaneously; Ban Na Po in Buriram makes their original gold-paint silk that is made entirely by hand, all from the silk that they grow, harvest, and dye on site.