The production of silk is an activity often represented as being firmly anchored in timeless, intimate domestic spaces. This narrative, which emphasizes the beauty of silk and the permanence of the weaving tradition, functions to encourage the consumption of silk by tourists and urban Thais who may seek to purchase a connection to and a representation of traditional “Thai” heritage. Erasing the roles of Khmer Surin weavers and the unique patterns and methods they employ, this story of shallow, shimmering surfaces also serves to reinforce social, political, and cultural hierarchies. The virtual exhibit will challenge the notion of the entrenched Thai silk hegemony by breaking the silk making process into seemingly straightforward, elemental themes, such as “leaves and worms;” “threads and dye;” “looms;” “patterns;” and “on the body and beyond.” Within each category, relevant images will be provided and explained that reveal the vicissitudes of silk making in Surin. Research for this exhibit was carried out from September 2012 to August 2013 as part of the preparatory fieldwork for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre's 2013 Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Field School: Mapping Intangible Culture in Surin Province.
Special thanks and appreciation to: the Baan Natang Women's Weaving Collective, the Baan Tampoung Weaving Group, Nongyao Songwitcha, Sa-um Yodrak, Suvanna Yodrak, P'Suben, P'Daenfa, P'Nok, Prapanee Poonchaliew, Surachote Tamcharoen, Wiratham Trakulngoenthai, P'Toy, P'Sanunag, Pavinee Ardsuwan, Yai Neng Yongkong, Sutai Monkatong, Sangop Kaewtaa, Mayuree Satupuinat, and all others, for sharing their time and knowledge in order for this exhibit to be possible.