Chiang Rai is full of ethnic diversity, including the Tai Lue people, known for their weaving and traditional clothing. In Chiang Rai, we can find them in Chiang Khong, Chiang Saen, Mae Sai and Phan districts. Cloth weaving and needlework is a necessary skill Lue women must learn from a young age.
Tai Textiles and Technique
Continuous supplementary weft is the process of placing a supplementary yarn into the web of tabby weave, passing from selvage to selvage thus enabling the use of a shuttle for the supplementary yarns. The result is a pattern in one colour that floats on the surface of the weave. When the supplementary yarns are metallic, such as gold or silver, the term “brocade” is used. The supplementary yarns are placed into the weave by the assistance of special shafts that raise the warp to a certain pattern allowing the supplementary yarns to be placed alternately with the tabby weave yarns. Prior to the invention of the special shafts, shed sticks were placed in the warp to indicate the pattern for the supplementary yarns, thus restricting the repeat of the design to one repeat of the exact same pattern. The use of the shafts allowed for endless repeats of the exact same pattern.
The process of discontinuous supplementary weft is one whereby the supplementary yarns are placed in the web of the tabby weave by means of picking out each warp yarn by hand and passing the supplementary weft yarn through them in small or specific areas only. The result is a pattern that floats on the surface of the weave in which many colours can be placed into the design across the width of the fabric. This method is sometimes called “embroidery on the loom”. In some areas the process is done with the back of the fabric facing upwards which allows for very seat finishing, while in other areas the fabric is woven with the right face up. Usually silk is used as the supplementary yarn on either a cotton or silk base.
BROCADES YOK DIN:
The technique known as yok din in Thai is a brocade weave using silver or gold threads as a continuous or discontinuous supplementary weft to create patterns, usually on a silk ground. This technique was popular with the higher classes as the materials were expensive and in many cases not available for the ordinary people. The use of imported brocade textiles was restricted to the court but locally made copies and adaptations of the imported designs were sought after by villagers for wedding and ordination costumes. Lower grade metal threads were used in the village, mostly made from gilt paper strips wound around a cotton or silk core, and more recently from lurex. The better quality threads were made from silver or gilted silver lamella either used as a flat metal strip or wound around a silk core. These threads were imported from India and Japan. In provincial areas yellow silk was often used to simulate gold threads. This technique is sometimes confused with twill weaves which are called yok dok in Thai, the abbreviation of both being pha yok.
MUDMEE (MUT MI)
Ikat is a process of “wrapping to pattern” the yarns before dyeing and weaving. The strings used for wrapping the yarns have to resist the dye and thus a pattern is placed in the yarns. For multi-colours, a process of over-dyeing and re-tying was done until the design was complete. The weft yarns are measured on the weft stretcher to the exact width of the fabric to be woven. In Thailand, cotton ikats are dyed in indigo for working clothes as seen among the Lao of the northeast, the Tai Lue in Nan province and the Lao Khang of the lower Lanna areas . Silk ikats were dyed with natural dyes giving reds, yellows, greens and browns.
TAPESTRY WEAVE : KOH OR LUANG
Tapestry weave is a technique whereby the weft yarns are not taken from selvage to selvage, but isolated to areas of colour to create patterns. This does not involve the introduction of supplementary weft yarns as in chok, but rather uses many different coloured ordinary weft yarns which are woven in a tabby weave, but hook and dove-tail together around the warp yarns to ensure a strong bond in the fabric. Complex and intricate designs can be created from this technique. The technique is not used extensively by the Tai but is known to the Tai Lue of Chiang Kham and Chiang Muan districts in Phayao province where the most well known design is lai pak vaen, made in cotton. The Tai Lue in Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai province also weave cotton tapestry designs. The most beautiful and extraordinary tapestry designs are made in silk by the Tai Lao in Nampat and Faktha districts, Uttaradit province. More recently it has been introduced to the Tai Lue weavers in Nan province who are now reknowned for the designs they call lai nam lai.
TABBY WEAVE :
The simplest weaving structure is the tabby weave, requiring only two shafts. Textiles for everyday use were woven in tabby weave with little or no decoration. Cotton was used for work clothing, While silk was reserved for special occasions. Colours associated with these raw materials are indigo for cotton and working clothes and red for silk, a ceremonial colour. It was popular to use two contrasting colours in the warp and weft of silk using a tabby weave creating a shot