Wooden reed making of the ethnic Lao Khrang in Thailand

By EMKP | 15 October 2019

Reed, a comb-like element of a weaving loom which is 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 the convenience. As the use of wooden reeds has fallen, and the age of those who are skilled in making them has increased, the knowledge of the craft 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 will investigate and document the process of making, from collecting 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. Wooden reeds held in the collection at the Roi Et National Museum will also be examined and compared with current examples, to gain a holistic understanding of wooden reed, including its social, cultural and practical dimensions.

Methodology including ethnography, apprenticeship, making, interview and object analysis will be used.

Documentation will consist of film, photography and written records. These will be collected and recorded on a regular basis in the fieldwork. Documents submitted to the repository will include a series of moving images, photographs and a written document explaining the data collected in detail. Printed reports will be lodged in local colleges and libraries to ensure accessibility for the community members.

This project hopes to revive this endangered practice. Moreover, the result of this project will be provided both in Thai and English, ensuring accessibility to both local and international audiences.

PI: Wuthigrai Siriphon, Thammasat University in Thailand
Collaborators: Jampee Tamasiri, Siriwan Sripenchan