Reed, a comb-like element of a weaving loom responsible for separating warp and beating weft yarn, is one of the most important parts of a handloom in many cultures in Thailand. In the past, weaving reeds were made of locally-sourced natural materials such as wood and bamboo. Nowadays, most Thai weavers use metal factory-made reeds partly due to convenience. As the use of wooden reeds has declined, and the age of those who are skilled in making them has increased, the knowledge of making wooden reeds is now in danger of disappearing.
This project recognizes the importance of the knowledge of wooden reed making and its contribution to Thai hand-weaving practice and overall textile culture, as well as the potential impact on environmental sustainability and local economies. The project documents the process of making, from the collection of the raw material to its use in weaving fabric. The ethnographic focus is on the ethnic Lao Khrang of Ban Rai district, Uthai Thani province in Thailand. This project also explores a holistic understanding of the wooden reed, including its social, cultural, and practical dimensions.
Through multimedia documentation that embraces film, photography, and written documentation, the project’s aim is to record the practice of making reeds and their use in weaving, in order to preserve this knowledge and so facilitate the future revitalisation of wooden reed use and production. In addition, the findings of this project will be disseminated in both Thai and English, ensuring accessibility to both local and international audiences.
- The first in-depth documentation of the process of Lao-Khrang wooden reed making in detail. From current research, there is no other record the practice of the community at the equivalent level of depth and the amount of data.
- The data collected has been shared with local institution, i.e. Uthai Thani Community College, particularly with the Director of the weaving learning center at the College. This will ensure that the data collected will be used by the members of the source community.
- The book titled “Wooden Reed Making of the Ethnic Lao-Khrang in Thailand” (Thai: การทำฟืมไม้ในวัฒนธรรมลาวครั่ง) has been registered with the Thai National Library, with an ISBN 978-616-590-189-5. Apart from the photographic and video media provided, the project published booklets that summarizes the process of wooden reed making for local dissemination, including the weaving communities, University, local colleges and schools.
- An English version of the booklet has been published in English as an e-book. The book will further expand the reach of the knowledge of the programme.
- The project activities have been broadcast on a TV program called หนึ่งในพระราชดำริ(Nung Nai Pra Rajadamri), meaning – one of the royal initiatives. The program was on Channel 9, which is a national free TV network, and aired on 18th October 2020. The main part of this episode was the EMKP research project and the recording can be found here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUPbD1gxwzQ
- The project has led to another research project involving Lao-Khrang weaving. The research team has been funded to conduct a project titled “Survey and analysis of local artisans in Uthai Thani and Chai Nat Province: the ethnic Lao Khrang-based weaving curriculum development” (Thai: โครงการสำรวจและวิเคราะห์จัดกลุ่มช่างศิลป์ท้องถิ่นและครูช่างท้องถิ่นในพื้นที่จังหวัดอุทัยธานีและชัยนาท: การพัฒนาหลักสูตรการทอผ้าบนพื้นฐานวัฒนธรรมลาวครั่ง). The project is funded by Thailand Academy of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, Ministry of Education in Thailand.
Curated collection of assets
Collection of materials
The master weaver is sourcing bamboo from the trash pile to be used. Participants: Jampee Tamasiri, 16 February 2020.
The master weaver and the carpenter are cutting bamboo. The larger ones are for the dents while the smaller ones are for the mold. Participants: Jampee Tamasiri, Phromma Charoensri, Wuthigrai Siriphon, 19 June 2020.
Wooden reed making
Assembling the reed. Pu, the carpenter, tried to assemble the wooden reed and the frame. Participants: Phromma Charoensri, 21 June 2020.
Assembling the reed. When the parts are leveled, tie and secure the parts. 16 February 2020.
In his EMKP project, Wuthigrai Siriphon interviewed several Lao Khrang weavers, recording their experiences making and using wooden reeds. One weaver, Nae Chantorn, described reed-making as a communal effort: “In the past, the men cut wood in their spare time. In the afternoon, they made the dents. Female elders made the dents into reeds for the children and grandchildren to weave.” These images show how Fa worked with Master Weaver Jampee Tamasiri and local carpenter Phromma Charoensri to create a wooden reed for his EMKP project.
Interviewing Auntie Jampee Auntie Nae and Auntie Sa-at. The master weaver and the researcher meet with Auntie Noey and Auntie Sa-at to talk about an interview for a TV Program. Participants: Wuthigrai Siriphon, Jampee Tamasiri, Nae Chantorn, Sa-at Chantorn. 14 MArch 2929.
Interviewing Auntie Nae, Auntie Sa-at, Auntie Hmok, Auntie Kamyoy and Auntie Somboon Participants: Hmok Chantorn, Sa-at Chantorn, Kamyoy Panpim, Somboon Namthip. 8 August 2020.
The Kathina Festival
After documenting the material knowledge behind the making of the wooden reed, EMKP Grantee Wuthigrai Siriphon recorded the reed in use during the Kathina Festival. During this festival, communities come together to make new robes for the local monks, spinning, weaving, and dying the cloth from scratch. In this video, the wooden reed is used as part of a Lao Khrang handloom, beating the weft into place after it has been passed through the warp.