The royal ensemble

The royal ensemble

When : May 9, 2012
9.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.

Where : The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

Category : Event / Exhibitions

Updated by : admin


Who : The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

What / Why :

The royal ensemble








The magic of Thai silk weaving goes on view at the new Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
Her Majesty the Queen once warned the people she'd assigned to safeguard Thai textiles to study every "rag". "It might be old, but we need to examine the pattern," she said, according to Thanpuying Jarungjit Thikara.
The Queen's deputy secretary gave reporters a preview tour of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles at the Grand Palace, which Her Majesty and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will officially open today.






The Queen came to understand the importance of even the humblest clothing during her and His Majesty the King's visits to the rural Northeast in the 1970s. Citizens in their traditional silk finery came out to greet them - the clothes were often old, even shabby, but the patterns remained strikingly beautiful.
"Her Majesty asked them what they did for a living," Thanpuying Jarungjit recalled, "and they told her they were farmers and grew mulberry trees to cultivate silkworm cocoons to make their clothes."
The Queen's upcountry "education" is a familiar story, and it's eloquently retold at the new textile museum - covering not just the magnificence of silk costumes but also the Queen's commitment. She devoted herself to promoting Thai silk and supporting weaving as a supplementary occupation. Her Support Foundation, established in 1976, enables people to be self-reliant and live sustainable lives, just as the King has long advocated.
"When we first went to Nawa in Nakhon Phanom it was very challenging, and the transportation was very rough," Jarungjit said. "The villagers were quite shy and modest. They were told their hand-woven fabrics would be presented to the Queen and they all said they weren't beautiful enough.
"But Her Majesty would examine every piece I brought her in detail and she asked me to have these folks make her more clothes in the same patterns. They said, 'Come back next year after the harvest!'"
"So I paid them in advance, but when I went back the next year not all of the weavers had finished. One woman told me she couldn't complete her work because her child was sick and she gave me back all the money - the same unused banknotes in an envelope. I asked why she hadn't used the money to pay for a doctor. She just told me it was the Queen's money and she wouldn't use it for any other purpose."
On another occasion, some weavers - concerned that Her Majesty must be getting bored with the same patterns - presented her with new designs. The Queen was certainly not bored, but she loved the fresh ideas.
Thanpuying Supornpen Luangthepnimit, who also accompanied the Queen on upcountry trips, remembers another key incident. Her Majesty decided cloth of a much wider measure was needed, but she didn't want the weavers to change their traditional ways and build bigger looms. "So she combined two pieces in different patterns in one skirt and wore that. Everyone was very impressed and delighted to see that Her Majesty really loved their work and wore the pieces herself."
The textile museum will open to the public on May 9 after more than nine years in development. It presents archival film footage and videotape interviews along with specially created documentaries to recount the Queen's efforts to establish and nurture the Support Foundation.
The inaugural exhibition fills four galleries. In the first is "Artistry in Silk: The Royal Style of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit", with more than a dozen designer ensembles that foundation members made by hand, primarily for the Queen's overseas state visits and based on local designs and others by the House of Balmain in Paris.
Gallery Two offers "Fashioning Tradition: Queen Sirikit Creates a National Dress for Thailand". Her Majesty presented the new formal wardrobe in the 1960s, and some 30 glittering samples from her own collection are on view.
Among them are a 1982 outfit called "Thai Chakri, Chong Kraben Variation" designed by Pierre Balmain in patterned brocade and silk with beads and sequins, and Nai Noi's 1965 "Thai Boromphiman", with a bodice of silk, an attached skirt and metallic brocade. The skirt's front pleats are formed by a strip of fabric that recalls the pleated ends of the phaa nung hip wrap worn by court ladies in the late 19th century.
"Thai Chakraphat" from 1981 has a bodice of silk, a skirt of embroidered silk and metallic gold brocade, and a sabai pleated shoulder cloth. "Thai Dusit" from 1964, also designed by Balmain, has metallic thread, sequins and beads from the House of League on the silk bodice.
"For the Love of Her Country: Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Creates the Support Foundation", in the third and fourth galleries, is a multimedia show that explains how the foundation has preserved village textile traditions and provided many rural women with new skills and income.





The exhibition's curators developed each presentation in turn by tracking down gowns and other artefacts, doing additional research and writing explanatory text for each installation, for the catalogue and for the museum website. It's been a complex, three-year process involving conservators, registrars, designers and outside consultants.
Preserving the textiles is also one of the museum's main missions. It has a fully equipped conservation laboratory whose staff of three treated and mounted of all the costumes and fabric samples in the show.
Proper handling and storage are essential. The museum can store between 10,000 and 15,000 items of clothing, so it's ready to accommodate a growing collection for years to come, in a climate-controlled, international-standard facility. All objects are frozen before they're stored to guard against damage from mildew or insects.





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