The Origin of Thailand's Traditional Dress
Chut Thai (ชุดไทย) which directly translates to “Thai outfit” is the name of the traditional Thai outfit worn in Thailand. There are many types of chut Thai, while each style is used for different occasions, the more modern garments were established as the nation’s official clothing by Queen Sirikit. If you're thinking of buying a traditional Thai dress, or are just curious about its history, continue reading! We will take a look through time to explore the fascinating history of Thai clothing, ending with a particular focus on traditional Thai dresses.
Traditional Thai Clothing Throughout History
Long before the chut Thai, approximately 900 years ago, ancient Thai clothing was greatly influenced by the Dvaravati and Khmer civilizations. Dvaravati was an ancient Mon kingdom that was located in the area that is now known as central Thailand, while The Khmer Empire ruled the majority of mainland Southeast Asia between the 11th and 13th centuries. During this time, both Thai men and women wore a unisex wraparound cotton loincloth, called a pha chung hang (ผ้าจูงหาง) or chong kraben (โจงกระเบน), with their bare feet and chests exposed. This article of clothing is a rectangular piece of cloth that is worn by wrapping it around the waist, pulling the corners between the legs and tucking the garment in the lower back.
Influence of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767)
The Ayutthaya Kingdom played a pivotal role in shaping traditional Thai clothing. Thai outfits began to take on more elaborate styles and designs as Thai silk became an integral part of traditional Thai clothing. The silk industry thrived during this time, and Thai silk soon gained recognition for its exquisite beauty and quality.
Feminine elegance was also accentuated with the introduction of the pha nung (ผ้านุ่ง), also called a pha sin (ผ้าซิ่น) or pha thung (ผ้าถุง), a long wrapped skirt worn optionally with a sabai (สไบ), a simple shawl that is wrapped around the chest and thrown over one shoulder. These pieces were mainly popular amongst royalty and nobility, as the use of intricate embroidery and gold or silver thread in clothing symbolized status and wealth.