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Travelling Thailand: Chiang Mai’s Silk Village

November 12, 2012
  • Weaving silk thread into fabric
  • Silk fabric, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Silkworm cocoons, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Weaving silk fabrics in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Silk fabrics in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Once the silk yarn is prepared, it is woven into colourful fabrics.
Photography Rachelle Lucas
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Natural dyes are used to colour the silk yarn.
Photography Rachelle Lucas
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Silkworm cocoons are boiled to extract thread.
Photography Rachelle Lucas
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A local craftswoman weaves silk thread.
Photography Rachelle Lucas
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Silks vary in texture and appearance. These are very soft, natural looking Thai silks, but others have a golden sheen and bright, colourful patterns.
Photography Rachelle Lucas

When it comes to textiles, Bali might be famous for the batik method, but Thailand has a reputation for the highest-quality silk in the world.

After a morning tour of the temples and markets in downtown Chiang Mai, I took a quick taxi ride out of town to San Kamphaeng Road, known as “the handicraft highway,” and Thai Silk Village.

I met local artisans and learned about the arduous process of making silk, and I immediately felt a new appreciation for the quality. Here are the steps involved in creating silk textiles (simplified for my benefit, I’m sure!).

1. Silkworm cocoons are boiled to extract the thread, which a craftswoman gently and patiently reels onto a spindle to be processed and dyed.

2. Thai silk yarn is naturally yellow, so it is bleached in a hydrogen peroxide bath before colour is added with various natural dyes.

3. Once the yarn is ready, it may be woven into colourful fabrics and sewn to make scarves, clothing and decorations for the home.

Some Thai silks are soft and natural looking, while others have a golden sheen and bright, colourful patterns that remind me of the temples and architecture in Thailand.

Want to know more about Thailand’s artisans? See what our other Around the World journalist, Adam H. Graham, found when he shopped Chiang Mai’s designer boutiques.


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Rachelle Lucas

Blogger Adam Graham

Rachelle, a travel writer and videographer, would love your advice on what to see, do and eat during her trip. Help plan her journey Around the World by following @TravelBlggr on Twitter

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