Brief History Of Thai Traditional Dress
Thai traditional dress has a rather unchanging history, at least as far as women are concerned. The weaving of fine textiles has been known in the area now known as Thailand for thousands of years, but the costume and work clothing of women has changed little, especially in the north, for all of those centuries. The textiles that make up Thai traditional dress have been made for thousands of years. Archeologists have found evidence of weaving (by the use of tools made from clay) in regions of modern day Thailand that date as far back as four thousand years. This indicates a long and rich tradition of weaving in materials like hemp. These naturally occurring materials were ideal for the making of clothing. Silk dates to right around 500 B.C.E., and cotton to 300 B.C.E. (they had to learn the making of cotton into fabric). All three of these textile materials are still used today, and in many villages, traditional weaving still takes place. This weaving is often done by hand, the results used for market in order to supplement the incomes of many families who have barely the sustenance to survive as farmers. These textiles were used in Thai traditional dress as wraps for modesty. The traditional Thai dress for women is a long tube skirt (known as a pha sin), pulled up to just below the breasts. Women went mainly topless until the last century, and the influx of Western culture and the arrival of missionaries. However, for modesty, a shawl or piece of fabric could be wrapped around the upper torso. Most Thai traditional dress was made from cotton for work and silk for ceremonies and other special occasions. Thai traditional dress evolved to include a blouse worn in place of the wrap. A sash can be worn over the blouse and pha sin combination for more formal occasions. This type of dress is still worn in many places throughout Thailand, and the fine weaving of textiles still a prized skill.