Woven into the fabric of society

The Thai Textile Society presents the lecture "Masterpieces From Southeast Asian Ethnicities: Their Diversity In Tastes And Craftsmanship In Textile Weaving And Dyeing" at Siam Society, Asok Road, on Saturday at 10am.

(Photos courtesy of Thai Textile Society)

Southeast Asian textiles are diverse and created by several ethnic groups who employ multiple weaving techniques. Originating in small communities that would over time be merged into empires, the art by each group evolved over the years from primitive to high art.

Their weaving now includes sophisticated techniques such as jok (discontinuous supplementary weft), khit (continuous supplementary weft), mook (supplementary warp), yok (brocade), mudmee (ikat), koh luang (tapestry weave), printing, batik and embroidery, all accomplished with a variety of materials.

Although they're able to work with different techniques and methods handed down through generations, each ethnic group focused on what they proved most skilful at, thus eventually coming to be identified with a particular style.

The colours used in the weaving express each group's beliefs and tastes, some using few dyes, while others weave in multiple colours, which can be vivid and bright or muted and subdued. An important factor in selecting colours is the availability of dye stuff in each region.

The skills that community members honed in weaving and dyeing as well creating fabrics and clothes eventually took them from rural areas to cities, where they experienced social interaction and cultural exchange through commercial activities. This resulted in the integration of different techniques to create works of higher quality. Speaking on the topic will be Udom Riantrakool, a textile shop owner and collector who endeavours to preserve Southeast Asian textiles while promoting and disseminating knowledge of this heritage to society at large.

The fee is 400 baht (300 baht for Thai Textile Society members). Email bkk.tts@gmail.com.

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