Thai Costume and Muay Thai to Be Proposed for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List

Thailand will propose Chud Thai, or Thai costume, and Muay Thai, or Thai-style boxing, to be inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Cabinet, during its meeting on 26 March 2024, approved the document on the proposal to be submitted by the Ministry of Culture to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The two items in the document are “Chud Thai: The Knowledge, Craftsmanship and Practices of the Thai National Costume,” and “Muay Thai: Thai Traditional Boxing.”

The Ministry of Culture stated that both Chud Thai and Muay Thai are significant attributes of Thailand’s cultural heritage. They truly reflect Thai identity and wisdom that should be preserved and promoted.

Chud Thai demonstrates fine craftsmanship, beautiful designs, and distinctive weaving techniques. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother played an important role in developing Chud Thai in 1960, when she began to establish national costumes for Thai ladies. With the development, eight styles of Thai costumes for ladies came into being for use on various occasions.

Muay Thai is both a martial art and a national sport of Thailand. It has been passed on for at least 300 years, and originated as a fighting skill in warfare and for protection of the community. Muay Thai is different from Western boxing in the diversity of offensive and defensive blows, thus making the art more taxing and challenging to both boxers. Moreover, cultural elements are added to Muay Thai, as the boxers have to perform a traditional “paying respect to the teachers” ritual, or wai khru ceremony. This ritual shows gratitude and respect to their teachers and trainers.

To date, Thailand has four elements inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, namely Khon Masked Dance Drama (2018), Nuad Thai (2019), Nora, Dance Drama (2021), and Songkran in Thailand, traditional Thai New Year festival (2023).


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