Article: Venerating the past, traditional costume fever grips Thailand

Business is booming for Siri Seatea’s traditional dress shop in Bangkok.

“Out of the 30 years I’ve been running this shop, this is the peak for us,” 53-year-old Siri told Reuters as she stitched a Thai sarong for a client.

History fever is gripping Thailand and a growing number of Thais are wearing traditional dress, a phenomenon encouraged by the junta and the palace, and fuelled by a popular television soap opera.

Among the popular costumes are those worn during the reign of former King Chulalongkorn, known as Rama V, who ruled from 1868 to 1910 and is credited with saving Thailand from Western colonialism.

Television has also played a part.

“Love Destiny”, a soap opera set during the 1656 to 1688 reign of King Narai the Great, has taken Thailand by storm.

Many Thais are visiting the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, where scenes from “Love Destiny” take place. They pose for “selfies” dressed in traditional garb against the backdrop of the ruins.

To read the full article visit the Reuters website. At the end of the article there is a slideshow of 15 images which can be viewed in full screen.

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Event: Chris Buckley Talks about Patterns in Silk – The Marvellous Innovations of Tai Weavers

Event date: Tuesday 9 May 2017, 6–8 pm

This talk will discuss the ingenious patterning systems that Tai weavers use, and will show how their influence has been felt from imperial Chinese silk workshops in the east to the development of computing in the west. It will be illustrated with outstanding Tai textiles from China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Chris Buckley was educated at Balliol and Wolfson Colleges in Oxford. He has spent the last two decades living in Asia, and now lives in Oxfordshire. He is the co-author of The Roots of Asian Weaving (Oxbow Books, 2015) with Eric Boudot.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

Admission is free for members, £3 for non-members.

For more information, and to register for your place, visit the Eventbrite page.

Exhibition: Dressing Gods and Demons – Costume for Khon

Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles - Dressing Gods and Demons

Exhibition dates: 4 August – May 2017

Opening today, this exhibition at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, in Bangkok, Thailand, celebrates the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 7th cycle birthday anniversary on 12 August 2016. It describes the origins of Khon and its historical presentation. It then highlights the modern Khon costumes created for the revival of this important art form by Queen Sirikit. The galleries display old and new Khon costumes, masks and jewellery.

In 2005, when Her Majesty Queen Sirikit set about organising the revival of Khon, one of Thailand’s oldest narrative dance forms, she assembled a scholarly research team to discover what the costumes might have looked like in the past. After the historical evidence had been collected, specialists were selected to design new costumes to fit contemporary adults. This degree of authenticity required the re-establishment or expansion of the weaving, embroidery, mask- and jewellery-making workshops necessary to produce all aspects of Khon costuming.

For more information, visit the website of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok, Thailand.