Queen Sirikit and Thai Silks
A new textile museum recently opened in Thailand. The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, located at the Grand Palace, is filled with examples of beautifully handwoven silks and elegant garments, including some from the queen’s private collection. The story of the queen’s involvement with Thai handwoven textiles goes beyond her fabulous wardrobe. In the 1970s, while on an official trip to the rural northeastern part of Thailand, the villagers who came to greet her were dressed in their old traditional silks. Though most of the clothing was well worn, the queen saw the beauty in the silks and was fascinated. Moved by the experience, Queen Sirikit created the Support Foundation, an organization devoted to the training of future weavers and to providing a source of income to rural Thais who might otherwise have moved to city slums to search for work. Her foundation has helped revitalize the craft and created a market for Thai handwovens.