Thai Silk


      Unique of Thai silk
   Thai silk is famous in the word in term of their unique characteristics. Sericulture has been on going in Thailand for over 3,000 year as evidenced by the scrap of silk fabric found attached to a prehistoric bronze bracelet found in Northeast part of Thailand.
   Silk handcraft production is complex and involves very diverse steps of production. The main production stages are silkworm rearing, reeling, weaving, and product processing. These stages are combined in various ways along the value chain, with agents who are carrying out one or more of these production functions.
      Silkworm rearing
   Most of sericulture farmers are small scale farmers, who do sericulture as a secondary occupation apart from paddy field. They rear Thai native silkworm variety, classify as polyvoltion, which produces yellow cocoons.
      Silk reeling
   Yellow cocoons from Thai native silkworm are reeled by hand. The farmers use their simple hand reeling equipment which adapt to each location, result in specific silk yarn is produced
      Silk dye
The process of dyeing of natural color make Thai silk popular for its distinctive beauty Natural color can be dyed in any colors according to a kind of plants, which is quite complicated in the processing.
      Silk weaving
   Weaving is the most importance processing that make Thai silk different from others countries all over the world. It reflects to experience, skill and knowledge to get one fine work. Most of the weaving is still done on hand looms with either hand-thrown shuttles ( traditional hand loom) or fly shuttles. Their weaving knowledge and skills differ from region to region since records, which enables Thailand to dominate the hand-woven silk market.
      The making of Thai silk has developed from a cottage industry. The products are more tradition designs. Most of the weaving is still done on hand looms. Result to Thai silk fabrics are popular from its distinctive beauty, consummate craftsmanship, soft smooth texture, iridescent sheen, attractive colors, and artistic designs which set it apart from silk made elsewhere. So far number of products have been classified for promotion Thai silk handicrafts such as hand woven fabrics, gifts, accessories and decorative items. These cover a vast variety of traditional items made in communities the length and breadth of Thailand. Each lovingly silk handicraft from local materials with skill and pride handed done through many generations, each with the inimitable flavor and style of their localities, just look at the renowned Thai silks, whose designs, patterns, color, even weaving style are strongly influenced by the topography of where they are produced.
Well know products of Thai silk in market are traditional and modern silk fabrics, silk garments, and gift/accessories items.
      Silk fabrics
   There are estimated about more than 60 % of silk fabrics in Thailand are hand-woven results giving special characteristic for Thai silk. These produce silk fabrics rather Thick offer fine artistry, painstaking workmanship and delicate beauty. Thai silk has a special luster and unique patterns and color schemes. Their weaving knowledge and skills differ from all regions are not inferior to one another since each shows beautiful indigenous culture record. These set it apart from silk made elsewhere and enables Thailand to dominate the hand-woven silk market. They are luxury market items and tend to be high in price. The best know and most popular Thai silk fabrics are:
   Mud-mee (Ikate) : Mud-mee, is regarded as the “Queen of Thai Silk” because of its intricate patterns, is a venerable textile traditional of the Northeastern region of Thailand which is different design according to its locality. Mud-mee is made by tying string on the yarns of either the warp or the weft in the desired pattern. The yarns are them dyed. And the exposed portions do not. After dying, the strings are removed and the piece is tied on the weft however, in some provinces such as Chiang-mai, Maehongson, Ratchaburi, and Petchaburi, it is the warp that is tied.
   Khit : fabrics are made by lifting yarns of the warp (called “kep khit”) with apiece of bamboo (mai kep khit) and introducting into the weft extend from one side of the piece to the other. Khit fabrics can be distinguished by the fact that the extra weft yarns result in ridges of the same color extending across the piece and that the design is repeated It may or may not extend the length of the piece, but it has definite starting and ending points. Khit fabrics are made all over the Northeastern region and in some provinces of Central region and Northern region.
   Yok (Brocade weaving) : Yok fabrics are made by introducing extra silver or gold weft threads (supplementary weft) in a manner similar to that by which khit fabrics are made. Pieces thus produced may be used as the ornate border sewn to the bottom of the skirt, or sin, or the technique may be used in weaving both the skirt and the border. Yok fabrics, are well known and very famous, are made in the Northern region particularly in Lumphun. However, in Southern region such as Nakhonsrithammarat is also made Yok fabrics for long time.
   Chok : Chok fabrics are made by introducing extra weft yarns as is done in khit fabrics, however, this is done at intervals; a yarn is not visible across the entire piece. This makes possible much more complex designs and color combinations than are found in khit fabrics. Chok is mainly woven to decorate the edge of pha sin. So it is sometimes called sin tin chok. Its delicate designs are always admirable. All over the Northern region particularly in Nan, Phrae, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and in some provinces of Northeastern region are sources of Chok fabrics.
   Phrae Wa : Phrae Wa fabrics, khit and jok techniques are combined in a single piece. The name “phrae wa” comes from the fact that pieces typically have a length of about one “wa” , or fathom. Phrae wa is associated with the Phu Thai, in whose culture such cloth is used on ceremonial occasions. The traditional base color of the phrae wa is red; however, recently both the color and size have been adapted to suit contemporary fashion and tastes.
   Plain silk : This type of silk fabrics are made by plain weaving usually using yarns of the same color for both the warp and weft. The color is smooth and generally not patterned. Sometimes different colours are used for the warp or weft. Giving striped or checkered patterns.
   Batik silk : Batik silk , is one type of silk fabrics in Thailand, is made by sketching designs on cloth and covering portions with wax before dying. The dye is not taken by the wax-covered portions. Northern region such as Phrae and Western region such as Khanchanaburi are famous for silk batik.
   Power loom woven silk fabrics : There are only 40 % of power loom woven silk fabrics in Thailand. Some types of silk fabrics such as plain silk, knitting silk and simple pattern fabrics can be made by power loom. These are available in solid colors or printed designs. They are popular used for ready-made garments and for other silk products.
   Silk Products Silk products produced in largest quantities are ready-made garments, handkerchiefs, scarves, shawls, bow ties, and neckties, tablecloths, pillowcases, handbags, gifts and interior decoration. Many garment factories are located in the vicinity of Bangkok, North and the Northrast. There is a trade floe of silk fabrics from the Northeast to the other parts. Garments producers source their fabrics from mainly SME weaving industries, which they are networks together or owned themselves. Smaller scale garment and silk product cooperatives as well as tailoring enterprises are present at the level.
   Caring of Thai Silk
   Nowadays Thai silk is inexpensive and can be washed and ironed easily. It is thus suitable for everyday wear, for it is not absorb dirt as do cotton fibers. It is thus suitable for wearing in all sorts of weather.
   Washing
1. Add mild detergent to water, and then immerse the silk in the solution. Do not scrub silk with a laundry brush.
2. Allow the silk to become completely wet and gently squeeze and agitate it with the hands. This is enough to wash perspiration and particles of dirt free of the fabrics, for silk does not absorb dirt. Co not soak silk in detergent solution for along time.
3. Then hang the silk to dry in a shady place where there is movement of the air. This will help keep the colors fresh and bright for a long time.
   Ironing
1. When ready to iron, first dampen the entire garment. The iron should be fairly hot to make the silk smooth.
2. Being ironing on the inside of the garment, and when the entire inner surface has been ironed, iron as necessary on the outer surface. Good-quality does not wrinkle and is easy to iron. That is all there is to it.
   Silk is not as difficult to care for as is commonly thought. Silk garments are available to suit nearly every occasion and taste. They lend the weather beauty and elegance. They are also easy to care for, and what is more, they are long lasting, for there is no natural fiber that is as durable as silk.
   Advisors : Peerapong Chaosattakul
     Somying Chuprayoon
   Author : Siriporn Boonchoo
  Acknowledgment
The Queen Sirikit institute of Sericulture would like to thank silk companies as following ;
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