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Costume  

Thai classical costume is quite unique to the nation. Modern Thai men invariably have two suits when dressing up for celebrations or formal ceremonies: a western suit and a Thai suit. Women have as many as six Thai classical dresses to choose from. Nowadays, Thai people wear Thai classical costumes for special occasions only, such as wedding ceremonies, temple visits or informal ceremonies.

An Overview of Thai Costumes

Evidence of early Thai costumes can be found in ancient sculptures and literature. The Thai people believed that dressing up in the right color would bring them good luck. This belief can be found in the poems of the Thai poet Soonthornphu, who lived in the Ayutthaya period. His poem entitled Sawatdiruksa, said that the color of clothing should be red on Sunday, white on Monday, violet and dark indigo on Tuesday, bright orange on Wednesday, green and yellow on Thursday, gray like the color of a rain cloud on Friday and black on Saturday. These colors were favorable both for daily wear and when going to war.

Thai costume has been influenced by the styles of neighboring peoples such as the Khmer, Lao, Burmese, Malays and Indonesians. Later, these styles were adapted to create true regional Thai identities.

During the Dvaravarti period, evidence from sculptures shows that costumes were very simple. Incorporating features of Mon and Khmer clothing, the people at that time wore a simple piece of cloth around their bodies, between waist and knee. Men wore a loincloth while the women occasionally draped a piece of clothing over the shoulders. The high bun was the fashionable hairstyle at the time. Ornaments and jewelry were made from stone and metal, and worn at the wrists and arms.

In the Srivijaraya period, costume followed the styles of Dvaravarti but with more ornamentation at the neck, wrists, arms and ankles. The women held their hair in a high bun while the men wore their hair in pigtails at the ears.

Costume in the Lopburi period was influenced by the Khmer to a greater degree. Upper bodies of both men and women were naked. Sometimes the women wore a 'sabai', a piece of cloth hung across one shoulder.

In the Chiang Saen period, tribes from northern Thailand brought new ideas to costume. Men wore three-quarter-length pants with their upper bodies bare. They wore a turban-like head-cloth and tied the pants at the waist in various ways. Women began to wear ankle-length tube-skirts for the first time, with jewelry at the neck, arms and wrists.

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Find further information on regional costume.





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