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Backstrap weaving in Chiang Mai, Summer 2022

I spent 6 weeks in Chiang Mai in the summer of 2022, learning two weaving techniques and visiting villages or weaving clusters where fabric is handwoven. My guide and instructor was Nussara Tiengkate, a textile historian and weaver based in Chiang Mai, and her team at Chiang Mai Textile Terminal, Prang Rojanachotikul and Thanawat Tepteial.

For a couple of weeks I first learned how to insert a supplementary weft on a frame loom. This technique is used in teen jok, the Thai name for a particular aesthetic of supplementary weft weaving in which several colours together form motifs, densely packed together. Traditionally, the teen jok, a Lanna weaving style, would form the wide, decorative hem of the tube wrap skirt.

I learned backstrap weaving first in Mae Chaem, a district in the mountains near Chiang Mai. This technique is a warp-facing weave with supplementary weft designs on a loom apparatus that is so simple, you can roll-up the entire contraption and carry it under your arm. After this introductory class from a weaver of the Karen tribe in Mae Chaem, I took a short, formal class with Studio Naenna in Chiang Mai.

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