Chiang Mai is a textile rich region and Thailand still remains a country of weavers and wooden looms.I came across a few villages with artisans making traditional Thai Textiles, the weaving process is intricate and beautiful. Thai fabric is one of the treasures of this Kingdom and its still appreciated and honored despite the rise of mass produced, industrially manufactured fast fashion.Although,I wish more awareness can be created to retain this beautiful tradition and art form.
There are around 7 major hill tribes of Northern Thailand, the different groups are; Karen, Akha, Hmong, Mien, Lahu, Lisu and Palaung. Each has their own unique culture, customs and language and each weave their own fabric.Among them, the most popular hill tribe is Karen.
I came across a few villages near Chiang Rai which honor the heritage of a 2000 year tradition and work with the rhythm of nature to produce hand-crafted textiles of the highest quality. It was wonderful to see a loom in some houses and the women were very friendly.They invited me and thought me how to weave with the loom.It was a fun experience and one meter of cloth can sometimes take one full month to weave.
I visited a hill tribe village near Chiang Rai, the entrance fee was 300thb. There are a lot of mixed reviews about this village not being authentic.I also visited another hill tribe village near Chiang Mai which did not have any entree fee.There were a few houses with women sitting on the porch and weaving and I bought fabric directly from them.I visited a few villages en route from Chiang Rai to Pu Chi Fa too.This is a vast area and if you are visiting for a short period,I recommend the hill tribe village near Chiang Rai,it is commercial but I also think its authentic.
Thai Silk Village in Chiang Mai is a place to discover how silk fabric is made, watch the silk worm life cycle and silk thread reeling.It is interesting to watch the entire process of how silk fabric is made.Silk is one of the most sustainable fabric, it is completely biodegradable and has zero impact on the environment to be produced.
Every-time I travel to textile rich regions,I always come back home with some fabric which I usually purchase directly from the weavers.This top is from a Thai fabric and the weave is called 'Tai Lu' and it takes one month to weave this fabric.