Around 5 millenniums ago, Chinese Empress Si Ling-Chi discovered silk by a fluke. Si Ling-Chi developed the sericulture, the science of silk production, and also introduced silk garments to the world. Thousands of years later it was spread across the world, including Thailand. Thai silk industry dates back to some 3000 years, according to the archaeological discoveries. Whereas the oldest evidence for Thai silk is reported from Baan Chiang, a heritage site in Udon Thani Province.
Towards the northeast of Thailand is the Khorat Plateau, popular for being the country’s hub of silk industry. From raising the silkworms called Bombyx mori, to weaving graceful silk fabrics, Khorat Plateau oversees the silk production and also supplies rose silk since many years. At present, Thai silk is acclaimed as the finest fabric in the world.
Bombyx mori silkworm is hatched from the silk moth’s eggs and they feed on mulberry leaves. After feasting on the leaves the silkworm spin a fluffy cocoon using their spittle. The colours of the cocoon vary from pastel green to light gold, while the total length of its fibrils spans from 500 to 1500 yards. It is soaked in boiling water to separate the fibrils.
It takes several fibrils to produce one fine silk thread strong enough for weaving. Some use machines while a majority use hand-reeling to produce these raw silk thread. Its natural yellowish colour is removed by immersing the skeins in hydrogen peroxide. Before the weaving process, the raw silk is again soaked in hot water and dyed in vibrant colours. Weaving is done using traditional handloom methods, after washing and drying the silk yarn.
Unlike other types of silk, Thai silk have special attributes that defines its prominence. The special lustre of Thai silk comes from its triangular shaped fibres, reflecting an iridescent similar to a prism. The sheen and lustre of the silk also changes alluringly according to the angle and the reflection of light. To authenticate the quality of Thai silk, the fabrics are also given a special peacock emblem. The peacock emblem has a range of colours such as gold, silver, blue and green symbolizing its production method, quality and authenticity.
Products made from Thai silk are handbags, handkerchiefs, neckties, readymade clothes, scarves and even photo frames. Travellers to Bangkok can find these rich silk products at any popular shopping mall, silk fabric shop, department store, shopping plaza as well as in the nearby Chiang Mai City. Visitors can find comfortable lodging at a cosy Bangkok apartment such as those available at Bangkok President Park, a Bangkok service apartment complex. Visitors can take pleasure in a delightful shopping extravaganza while gaining an insight into the art of Thai silk production.