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Hol I

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Hol I


This pattern is known as hol, and is referred to by many Surin locals as the “queen of Surin silk.” Hol is woven only in ethnic Khmer communities in Surin, and most weavers assert that the name hol comes from the Khmer word hor (โฮร), which means “to flow,” due to the pattern’s stripes and twisting shapes that unfurl across the fabric like running water. Interestingly, the word for doing mat mee among Khmer weavers in Cambodia is also hol, but in Surin, the word hol is used only for this specific pattern, which does involve a complicated mat mee process. Traditionally, the hol pattern was worn by women, but now that it has come to signify Khmer-Surin identity, it is donned by women and men, especially at weddings, on Buddhist holidays, or local festival days. Naowarat Pongpaiboon, a Thai poet who won the SEA Write Award in 1980, wrote the following poem about Surin silk and hol:

Silk of Surin

Mulberry leaves nourish and silk becomes shimmering thread
mother’s hands reach out to make mat mee.
Inevitably the colors are dyed, the patterns alternated
it is a forest of designs, grouped like chimneys or mountain passes.
It is an area full of the song of flowing water.
Mother takes the thread and binds it to the loom
she winds the silk and spreads it out onto three heddles
she throws the seven shuttles through the silk to weave.
The beater fights to help, and little by little, cloth is made.
This row is the path for water to flow
the next row is the rattan plant, whirling and jumping
this unruly green: bamboo falling in the forest.
On this piece of cloth is the hol pattern
a motif from such ancient faraway times
given to young women for them to save as a virtue.
This mother of silks is the silk of Surin.