Northeastern-Style Fabrics

The majority of the northeastern Thai people are Lao descendants. There are also Cambodian descendants scattered in Surin and Buri Ram. These ethnic groups have different cultural heritage, which is highly visible in their dialect, traditional costume, and belief systems.

Most of them, however, share basic cultural beliefs and practices common among people in agrarian communities. They spend 7-9 months from the rain to the cold seasons on planting and harvesting. The 3-5 months of summer are for making preparations for the planting season and repairing tools for everyday use, as well as for some entertainment and religious festivals. A traditional saying “After the rice planting season, women weave fabric and men strike iron,” clearly summarizes local activities and practices.

Northeastern farmers grow cotton and mulberry trees (for silk worms) simultaneously with rice planting. After the rice harvest, the cotton will also be ready for the harvest. Villagers will then begin the fabric production process. They weave both cotton and silk fabrics for different occasions. Many localities have their own

signature fabric. For example, the hole and prom fabrics are from the Lower Northeastern areas of Surin, Buri Ram, and Si Sa Ket. The khit designs are especially popular among the Lao descendants in Maha Sarakham, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, and Chaiyaphum.

Northeastern fabric is different from that of the northern people. The stripes and designs run vertically along the length of the wearer. A robe usually has only one seam, which is carefully hidden and invisible under the front fold of the robe. The northern fabric, in contrast, runs the stripes and the patterns horizontally across the wearer’s body. A northern robe often has two seams. When worn, one will be visible in front and the other at the back of the wearer.

In addition to fabrics for clothing, people also make other items to meet the market demand, such as bags, handbags, tablecloths, doilies, napkins, scarves, shawls, and bed spreads. Silk from the Northeast is very beautiful and second to none. HM Queen Sirikit has recently encouraged people to continue their weaving art. She has graciously included their weaving art to the SUPPORT Handicraft Center’s programs under her royal patronage.

Silk threads in “matmi” design.

No comments: