Saturday, March 11, 2017

Textile Museum by Naowarat Kakhay in Pattaya, Thailand

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Photos and writing by Dianna Drahanchuk

On my recent trip to Thailand, I visited a small textile museum on Pattaya’s main thoroughfare. Opened in 2016, the entry is free and the exhibits are lovely to see as are the wood carvings in the museum attached to it. Online news page “Pattaya Today” explained that the museums were opened to commemorate “His Majesty King Bhumibhol’s 70 year reign and to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 80th birthday. Naowarat, president of Pattaya Women’s Development Club, welcomed guests to showcase more than 1,000 displays of Thai silk, linen and clothes from around Thailand. The showcase promotes a national heritage [that] may revive the weaving industry.”

Once inside the exhibit, I came to realize that there are so many fabric can be attractively folded and tied. Astonishingly, each piece of clothing on the 30 or so mannequins and dress forms are held together by a single hidden, unattached cord. Cat, who graciously showed me around the exhibit, honed her curating skills assembling costumes as a traditional Thai dancer. She performs nightly at the elegant outdoor restaurant “Ruen Thai” next door to the museum.

Quite a few of the textiles on display are over 80 years old with those from the north having more elaborate designs, some embellished, and one piece Cat showed me was woven with sixteen different patterns. Over the years, patterns have become simpler perhaps reflecting current preferences.

Although most of the outfits are traditional Thai silk, Cat has experimented with one complicated cotton costume, a design idea she brought back from a trip to Bangkok. She has also employed her creativity with a plaid-like patterned fabric typically used in men’s sarongs that are usually worn around the house.

You can find more information about the museum on their Facebook page, but it is mostly in Thai. I hope you enjoy the photos of the exhibit!

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