Her Majesty Queen Sirikit has played a vital role in developing and promoting Thai silk, which has made a name for Thailand in the international market.
Thai silk is one of Thailand’s best-known handicrafts, found not only in numerous local shops but also throughout the world.
An admirer of Thai fabric, Her Majesty the Queen has dressed in Thai fabric since she was still Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara. In 1960, ten years after the royal wedding, Her Majesty decided that it was time to create a traditional Thai dress for women that would be instantly recognizable the world over. Research on the attire that Thai women had worn throughout various historical periods was undertaken to come up with national costume designs.
Her Majesty had the dresses adapted to suit present-day use, and she has worn them during her visits to foreign countries. She also commissioned designs of national costumes for ladies and gentlemen, with emphasis on the use of locally made fabric featuring traditional patterns. The world then came to appreciate Thai silk and designs through numerous creations.
Thanks to Her Majesty, the Thai national dress is now recognized internationally. In fact, the national costumes are particularly suited to hand-woven silk, as well as plain, brocade or patterned, and tie-dyed silk.
Thirty-five years ago, Her Majesty the Queen established the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, known as SUPPORT. The primary objective was to set up women’s groups and provide rural Thai women with equipment, materials, and training in cottage industries.
Among the traditional crafts produced by the SUPPORT Foundation is Thai silk, especially a kind called mudmee, which is famous for its unique features. Silk brocade cloth from Lamphun province in the North and phraewa silk from the northeastern province of Kalasin are recognized as creative items. They are among the “One Tambon, One Product,” or OTOP, goods in the two provinces. Local silk makers have accumulated knowledge, skills, and expertise, which will help boost Thailand’s creative economy, thanks to the wisdom that has been passed on from generation to generation.
With Thai silk and crafts foremost on her mind, Her Majesty the Queen used every occasion offered by her foreign trips to showcase the products, invariably with the remark, “These are the works of those who tend the land and grow rice for us!”
The “Thai Silk” trademark of Her Majesty the Queen has been registered in many countries, such as China, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the European Union.
The trademark includes four types, namely golden peacock, silver peacock, blue peacock, and green peacock. The use of these types depends on different conditions. However, the most important condition is that Thai silk of these types must be produced in Thailand only and be environment-friendly.
Exhibitions on Thai silk and art design have been held in several places to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2012.