Cotton Textile Museum in Chiang Mai

Thailand's cotton dyeing and weaving traditions are preserved in a museum continueing work of Saeng-da Bunsiddhi, National Artist for Folkcraft.

A loom to weave cloth.


Read the whole article and watch a slide show here.

Click button to listen to Cotton Textile Museum download

Handicrafts

Spinning around

Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum in Chiang Mai maintains the legacy of a woman who loved to create cloth in the traditional way
7 Mar 2013
Pichaya Svasti

The looms and spinning wheels are a bit battered and worn, betraying the use they have been put to over the years. But they have clearly been well loved, since they are functional and are still being used to produce fine fabrics today.

Among the handlooms, frames, spinning wheels, earthenware pots and other equipment that can be found at Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum in Chom Thong district of Chiang Mai are more than 10 local women producing naturally colour-dyed cotton yarn and fabrics of many designs. They dye, spin and weave the cotton by hand and in traditional fashion.

The weaving centre was established by Saeng-da Bunsiddhi, the 1986 National Artist for Folkcraft, who regarded cotton dyeing and weaving as a labour of love and tried her best to conserve the art. Saeng-da died in 1993 and the museum is her legacy.

"The uniqueness is that our products are hand-made cotton fabrics, woven with handlooms and dyed with natural herbal colours," Saowanee Bunsiddhi, Saeng-da's daughter, said. "Our cotton fabrics last for decades."

According to her, the museum was once a summer residence of Chao Kavilawong, a former ruler of Chiang Mai...

..."More people and students have visited this museum to observe the dyeing and weaving of cotton textiles," Saowanee said. "Visitors are excited when seeing us spin cotton by hand, thread after thread. In the past, every local woman had to be able to weave clothes or she would have no chance to marry.

Saeng-da was born in 1919 in Chom Thong district. She never had any formal schooling. She learned the art of weaving from her grandmother, Liam, who was skilled in dyeing and weaving cotton fabrics in a traditional style and earned her living from dyeing textiles. She also gained some knowledge and experience from hilltribe people who lived in the neighbourhood.

During World War II, a shortage of textiles prompted her to weave khaki textiles called pha pluak mai (tree bark fabrics) and make uniforms for her military doctor husband Snr Sgt Maj Malai Bunsiddhi and his friends.

After her husband's death in 1960, Saeng-da began to collect weaving equipment and grow cotton plants. After obtaining five handlooms, she encouraged local women to weave cotton fabric for sale and set up a housewives' union.

The sales eventually grew. High demand, especially from Japanese customers, prompted Saeng-da to invest in growing cotton plants and encourage her neighbours to do the same. She also bought cotton from nearby farmers.

Saeng-da was determined to increase incomes and job opportunities for her neighbours, preserve traditional dyeing and weaving techniques and promote handicraft production. She also initiated the extension of the width of cotton textiles to meet the international standard, and taught people how to weave.

"In 1985, my mother was named a folkcraft artist. In 1986, she was declared National Artist and became better known among people," Saowanee said.

...All the designs and colours used at the centre were developed by Saeng-da herself... 

... Before Saeng-da died of cancer at the age of 74 in 1993, she expressed concerns about cotton weaving and asked her daughter Saowanee to promise to carry on the legacy

"The weaving has been passed on to younger generations. My daughter and granddaughter are also good weavers. My university student granddaughter Porsa knew how to spin and weave cotton when she was just a Prathom 4 student," Saowanee said proudly.

[This is part of a larger article. Read the whole article here.]

MORE INFO

Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum under the Saeng-Da Bunsiddhi Foundation is open daily during office hours. Admission is free. Call 053-361-231

(Source: Bangkok Post, Handicrafts, Spinning around, Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum in Chiang Mai maintains the legacy of a woman who loved to create cloth in the traditional way, 7 Mar 2013, Pichaya Svasti, link


Cotton Textile Handicrafts Vocabulary 

textile -  material used to make clothes made by weaving or knitting ผ้า, สิ่งทอ (See Wikipedia)
cotton textiles

fabric - Same as "textile"
cloth - Same as "textile"

cotton - ฝ้าย
cotton cloth - ผ้าฝ้าย

fine fabrics - high quality fabrics
fabrics of many designs

thread
- a kind of thin yarn used for textiles and sewing เส้นด้ายเส้นบางๆ
spin cotton by hand, thread after thread

yarn
- a long continuous length of fibers locked together เส้นด้าย ม้วนด้าย (See Wikipedia)
thread - thin yarn used for sewing เส้นด้าย, ผ้าฝ้าย (See Wikipedia)
naturally colour-dyed cotton yarn

spin -
the process of making yarn and thread from the fibers of plants such as cotton (See Wikipedia)
spin thread
spin yarn

spinning wheel -
the device used to make spin yarn or thread by hand used in the past (See Wikipedia)

weave -
the process of making cloth from thread or yarn ทอผ้า, ถักทอ (See Wikipedia)
woven - a cloth made by weaving เสื้อผ้าที่ลวดลายถักทอ 
weaving frames

loom -
a device used to weave cloth (See Wikipedia)
handlooms
- looms that are operated by hand (without engine for fast weaving)

dye - to change the colour of something using a special liquid สารย้อมสี (See Wikipedia)
dye cloth

naturally colour-dyed cotton
the dyeing and weaving of cotton textiles

by hand - not using a machine
in traditional fashion - in the way it was done in the past for a long time

dye, spin and weave the cotton by hand and in traditional fashion.

naturally colour-dyed cotton yarn and fabrics of many designs. They dye, spin and weave the cotton by hand and in traditional fashion.

battered - badly damaged ที่ถูกทำลายยับเยิน
worn - damaged by continuous use, rubbing or movement ซึ่งใช้จนเก่า, ซึ่งใช้จนเสื่อม
a bit battered and worn

the looms and spinning wheels are a bit battered and worn

betraying -
showing something to be true (something bad)
betraying the use they have been put to over the years.

traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
create cloth in the traditional way

the legacy of a woman who loved to create cloth in the traditional way

legacy  -
the things you have done in your life that you leave for those who come after มรดก
carry on the legacy -
when your children and their children continue doing what you did when you lived

promise to carry on the legacy
asked her daughter to promise to carry on the legacy


functional - when a machine works and is not broken, can be used to do the job they are made to do

But they have clearly been well loved, since they are functional and are still being used to produce fine fabrics today.

The looms and spinning wheels are a bit battered and worn, betraying the use they have been put to over the years. But they have clearly been well loved, since they are functional and are still being used to produce fine fabrics today.

local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
local women

Among the handlooms, frames, spinning wheels, earthenware pots and other equipment that can be found at Pa-Da Cotton Textile Museum in Chom Thong district of Chiang Mai are more than 10 local women producing naturally colour-dyed cotton yarn and fabrics of many designs. They dye, spin and weave the cotton by hand and in traditional fashion.

conserve - to keep and protect something from damage, change or waste สงวน,เก็บรักษา
museum - a building where objects of historical, scientific or artistic interest are kept พิพิธภัณฑ์

The weaving centre was established by Saeng-da Bunsiddhi, the 1986 National Artist for Folkcraft, who regarded cotton dyeing and weaving as a labour of love and tried her best to conserve the art. Saeng-da died in 1993 and the museum is her legacy.

natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
natural herbal colours

uniqueness - unlike anyone else, something that no one else has makes you special

The uniqueness is that our products are hand-made cotton fabrics, woven with handlooms and dyed with natural herbal colours

decades - periods of ten years เป็นสิบๆปี
last for decades - will exist for 10 or 20 years, not wear out and be destroyed
Our cotton fabrics last for decades

residence - a home, place where you live ที่พำนัก ที่อาศัย ที่อยู่อาศัย บ้านพัก
a summer residence of Chao Kavilawong

According to her, the museum was once a summer residence of Chao Kavilawong, a former ruler of Chiang Mai...

observe - to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกตการณ์
students visit the museum to observe the dyeing and weaving of cotton textiles

chance - opportunity
get a chance to - get an opportunity to do ...
have no chance to  

In the past, every local woman must be able to weave clothes or she would have no chance to marry

formal schooling - going to a regular school and going to classes everyday (like most people do)
She never had any formal schooling.

khaki  -
brownish-yellow things (such as khaki pants) ซึ่งเป็นสีกากี
khaki textiles

shortage - when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน
a shortage of textiles prompted her to weave khaki textiles

encourage - cause someone to gain enthusiasm, motivation, and energy in what they are doing ปลุกใจ

After obtaining five handlooms, she encouraged local women to weave cotton fabric for sale and set up a housewives' union.
high demand prompted her to invest in growing cotton plants and encourage her neighbours to do the same

eventually - at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
The sales eventually grew.

demand - the need and desire to buy goods and services by households and businesses
high demand, especially from Japanese customers

opportunities - a situation where it is possible to do something that you want to do
job opportunities

neighbours - people who live nearby เพื่อนบ้าน
job opportunities for her neighbours

determined - wanting to do something very much and not letting anyone or any difficulties stop you ตั้งใจจริง, ซึ่งมุ่งมั่น
she was determined to increase incomes and job opportunities for her neighbours

preserve - to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน, อนุรักษ์
preserve traditional dyeing and weaving techniques

techniques - methods of doing a task or activity เทคนิค
traditional dyeing and weaving techniques

Saeng-da was determined to increase incomes and job opportunities for her neighbours, preserve traditional dyeing and weaving techniques and promote handicraft production.

extension - an increase in the power of effect of something ขยายขอบเขตออกไป
width - the distance across something from one side to the other ความกว้าง
the extension of the width of cotton textiles

international - ระหว่างประเทศ between countries
meet international standard

initiated - created; started ริเริ่มโดย
She also initiated the extension of the width of cotton textiles to meet the international standard, and taught people how to weave.

concerns - things that people are worried about ความกังวล
expressed concerns about

... Before Saeng-da died of cancer at the age of 74 in 1993, she expressed concerns about cotton weaving and asked her daughter Saowanee to promise to carry on the legacy

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer