Thai Beetle Wing Art and Decoration

Thai beetle wing art and decoration was very popular in Thailand. It was primarily used as decoration on royal clothing such as shawls and sabai cloths but also on jewelry. However, the ancient tradition of using Thai beetle wings has mostly died out in Thailand. Nevertheless, at the Dusit Palace there are some rare pieces of Thai beetle wing art and craft and jewelry displayed.

Thai beetle wing art

A modern take on beetle wing art - asymmetric earrings (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry)

A modern take on beetle wing art – asymmetric earrings (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

Me wearing beautiful beetlewing earings by 3rd Rock jewelry

Me wearing beautiful beetlewing earings by 3rd Rock Jewelry

In fact, at the Grand Palace, HM Queen Sirikit discovered old royal cloths that were embroidered with bug wing. Thus, HM Queen Sirikit set up the bug wing decoration-collage section at the Chitralada Center in order to preserve and honour this traditional art.

thai dolls carved from ivory wood with beetle wing decoration

Thai dolls carved from ivory wood with beetle wing decoration (photo credit: Charassri Nualsri on Pinterest)

HM Queen Sirikit’s intention was to create new works of art with the ancient tradition of using beetle wing. For example, beetle wings were tried in decorating sculpture and wood carvings. Another example is that multicolored fine strips of beetle wings were woven into yan lipao pieces such as basketry.

Thai beetle wing art

Thai beetle wing art (photo credit: Chitralada Center)

However, let me tell you something more about the bug used for this special art technique:

Beetle wings are the wings of the insect belonging to the genus Sternocera which is called malaeng thap in Thai. The beetle wings are very beautiful because they have an iridescent green and bluish surface. Hence, the beetle wings shine like emeralds and thus, this kind of beetle is also called ‘jewel beetle’.

beetle wing, jewel beetle

The beetle-wing, jewel beetle shines like an emerald (photo credit: Xufanc, Wikimedia.org)*

Since these bugs have a short life span, they are available in abundance and can be collected when they are dead. Then, the bugs’ wings are clipped off and used as sequins for embroidery and jewelry.

Natural material for making jewelry (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

Natural material for making jewelry (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

The life circle of the beetle wing starts on the rainy season which is called khao phansa (rains retreat) in Thai. The beetles die off after having laid their eggs in the period ending the rainy season. Therefore, the bugs’ alternative name is “malaeng khao phansa” in Thai which means ‘rains retreat insect’. The dead beetles are collected, thus their ecosystem remains intact and is not disturbed. In addition, HM Queen Sirikit had research conducted on the life cycle of the jewel beetle in order to ensure its conservation in nature.

Green and orange iridescent shades (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry)

Green and orange iridescent shades (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

I love my new jewel beetle earrings

I love my new jewel beetle earrings

Most of the wing pieces are an iridescent emerald color. However, you might notice that some wing pieces look slightly orange. This orange shade is in fact quite rare and only found in one out a few hundred beetles. What is special about Thai beetle wing art is that it is extremely durable. Thus, the natural shine of the beetle wings remain for decades and even centuries.

Necklace with jewel beetle (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

Necklace with jewel beetle (photo credit: 3rd Rock Jewelry, FB page)

HM Queen Sirikit has also used Thai beetle wing decoration on her clothing and shoes 🙂 Today, her granddaughter who is a prominent Thai fashion designer, Princess Sirivannavari, also draws on traditional Thai craftsmanship.

Here are some very beautiful and awesome examples:

gold thread and beetle-wing embroidery on Thai silk queen sirikit museum of textiles

Gold thread and beetle wing embroidery on Thai silk*

 

queen sirikit shoes

The left pair of shoes has a beetle wing decoration on the front Queen Sirikit Shoes*

 

(*Photo credit: Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles)

Do you like Thai beetle wing art and decoration and would you wear it as jewelry or as sequins on clothes? I think beetle wings are a very good alternative to plastic sequins and beads because they come from nature. What is more, beetle wings allow people to admire and cherish the natural beauty of the jewel beetle 🙂

Yours, Sirinya




Traditional Thai Dresses Part II

Following the first part of my article about traditional Thai dresses, I’d like to continue with the remaining four styles. In the previous post on traditionalistic Thai dresses I have presented the Thai Chakkri, Thai Boromphiman, Thai Siwalai and Thai Chakkraphat to you. Thus, I’d like to continue with the fifth one called Chut Thai Chitlada.

Traditional Thai Dresses

5. Chut Thai Chitlada

Chitlada is a daytime ceremonial dress. Hence, it is worn on formal occasions such as welcoming royal guests at the airport. The Chut Chitlada can be worn with a long sleeved buttoned silk blouse. The skirt (Pha-Noong) is a casual wrap skirt that has a brocaded band at the hem. It is not necessary to wear royal decorations with this style. However, the colour of the dress should be appropriate for the respective occasion.

thai chitraladaThai Chitlada dress*

6. Chut Thai Ruean Ton

The Chut Thai Ruean Ton is the most casual style of all eight traditional designs presented here. It is most often worn at non-official functions, for example for the religious ceremony of the conferring of royal offerings to the monks (Khtin ton). The Thai Ruan Ton comprises a collarless buttoned blouse and a striped or plain coloured skirt (Pha-Noong) with a patterned band at the hem. This is sometimes folded to one side. The Chut Ruean Ton is a two piece dress which means that the blouse and the skirt are separate.

thai ruean ton dressthai ruean ton dressThai Ruean Ton dresses*

7. Chut Thai Amarin

The Chut Amarin or Amarintra is a beautiful formal evening gown. It is made of brocaded fabric and ornaments. The blouse is usually round-necked and the skirt (Pha-Noong) is ankle length. With this style, royal decorations are worn. The Thai Amarin is a dress for an evening dinner or the Royal Birthday Procession.

thai amarin dressthai amarin dressThai Amarin dresses*

8. Chut Thai Dusit

Dusit is the most Western style of all eight traditional dresses presented here. It is a wide necked and sleeveless brocaded dress. The skirt and top are sown together so that they form a one piece dress. The Chut Thai Dusit can be worn for evening ceremonies in place of a Western style dress. For this kind of dress, Yok silk fabric is used. The Dusit can be either worn with Thai or Western style jewellery.

thai dusit dressqueen sirikit wearing thai dusit dress Thai Dusit dress & HM Queen Sirikit in Chut Thai Dusit around 1950*

I really enjoyed researching about Thai traditional dresses and since I have not been to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok, this place is on my top priority list next time I have the chance to go there 🙂

Finally, I’d like to close this article with a picture of little me in a traditional dress 😉

Little Sirinya in traditional Thai dressThis is probably the casual Thai Ruean Ton style

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Do you also like these dresses as much as I do?

Traditional Thai dresses

Traditional Thai dresses featured in this post (photo credit: bangkokpost.com)

In case, you’ve missed my first part of Thai traditional dresses, check this out here! Did you know that there is also a traditional make up look that goes well with traditional Thai dresses? What is more, it is also interesting to note that today the Siamese Fashionista group tries to encourage young Thais to dress traditionally.

Yours, Sirinya

(*All photos in this post are from the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles unless otherwise stated, a further source about traditional dresses in Thailand is here)

 




Traditional Thai Dresses Part I

Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the amazingly gorgeous traditional Thai dresses. The Thai national or traditional dress is called ‘Chut Thai phra ratcha niyom’ (ชุดไทยพระราชนิยม) in Thai which means ‘Thai dress of royal endorsement’. This kind of dress (chut Thai) is commonly worn on formal occasions as national costume.

traditional dresses at Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

Traditional Thai dresses at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok, Thailand*

Today we can distinguish between eight different styles of Thai national dresses. They are said to have originated in the mid 20th century. In fact, when HM Queen Sirikit accompanied the King in state visits to Western countries in 1960, she realized the need for a modern national costume. Thus, Queen Sirikit had research conducted concerning historical records of royal dresses. Consequently, eight official designs were developed and also promoted by HM Queen Sirikit herself.

I will focus on traditional (national) Thai dresses for women but of course there are also national attire for men. I have divided this article into two parts, simply because there is so much material and information. Hence, I think it is better to have smaller ‘bites’ 😉

Traditional Thai dresses

Traditional Thai dresses featured in this post (photo credit: bangkokpost.com)

Traditional Thai Dresses

1. Chut Thai Chakkri

Chut Thai Chakkri is a very formal and elegant dress. This kind of garment is usually produced by using the Yok weaving technique. A special feature of the Yok weaving method is that it creates additional thickness within the fabrics without adding extra threads. In the Chakkri Style, the ‘Pha-Sin’, that is the ‘Pha-Noong’ or skirt, is a full length wrap skirt. This skirt has two pleated folds in front which are called ‘Na- Nang’.

chakkri style Thai dresschakkri style Thai dressChakkri style dresses*

Traditional Thai dress, Chakkri (photo credit: Amat Nimitpark)

Traditional Thai dress, Chakkri (photo credit: Amat Nimitpark)

2. Chut Thai Boromphiman

Like Thai Chakkri, Thai Boromphiman is also a formal evening attire. It can be worn in formal ceremonies and royal functions. The Boromphiman comprises a long sleeved round necked buttoned blouse which is tucked beneath the ankle length ‘Pha-Noong’ skirt with its front pleats (‘Na-Nang’). The blouse and the skirt are sown together so that they form a one piece traditional dress. The Boromphiman is made of brocaded fabrics in order to create a very luxurious appearance.

thai boromphiman dressthai boromphiman dressBoromphiman dresses*

3. Chut Thai Siwalai

The Thai Siwalai is a formal evening gown similar to the Boromphiman and the Chakkri. The only difference between these Thai traditional dresses is that the Siwalai has a shawl draped over the long- sleeved blouse. This shawl is also called ‘sbai’ in Thai. Chut Thai Siwalai is worn in royal ceremonies and other formal occasions. By the way, the term siwalai was derived from the English word ‘civilized’.

thai siwalai dressqueen sirikit in thai siwalai dress

Thai Siwalai dress & HM Queen Sirikit in Thai Siwalai dress around 1950*

4. Chut Thai Chakkraphat

First of all, it is important to mention that ‘Chakkraphat’ means emperor in Thai language. Hence, Thai Chakkraphat is an official and conservative traditional dress with a shawl similar to Chakkri. Nevertheless, it appears even more put together than the Thai Chakkri dress because the shawl is thicker, richly embroidered and decorated with beautiful ornaments. It can be worn in royal or national ceremonies.

thai chakraphat, thai traditional dress of queen sirikit of thailandthai chakkraphat dress

Thai Chakkraphat dresses*

In the following part, I will feature the remaining four styles of traditional Thai dresses. Hence, stay tuned if you like these amazingly beautiful garments! Or click here to check it out immediately 🙂 It is also interesting to note that today the Siamese Fashionista group tries to encourage young Thais to dress traditionally.

Yours, Sirinya

(*All photos in this post are from the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles unless otherwise stated, a further source about traditional dresses in Thailand is here)