Artist Profiles

Artist:

Suriya Wongchai

Region:

East Asia and the Pacific

Country:

Thailand

Organization:

Tai Lue Textile Museum

Media/General:

Textiles

Medium of Work:

Tai Lue tapestries and shawls

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2018

About:

In the village community in Chiang Khong, outside of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, artisans have been creating radiantly colored, intricately woven textiles for generations. Maintaining this tradition is artisan Suriya Wongchai, whose exceptional creative vision, combined with a longtime dedication to traditional techniques, results in truly one of kind textiles, designed for a range of uses.

One of Wongchai’s specialties is the creation of tube skirts, traditionally worn by Tai Lue women and most commonly rendered in bright arrangements of pink, red and orange. Suriya’s innovative eye has amended these garments into larger tapestries which can be worn as shawls, wide scarves, or even as eye-catching wall decor. New patterns and colors such as blues and black were also introduced by the artisan, as well as the implementation of silk, instead of more traditional cotton. Most of the patterns and motifs used are traditional to Tai Lue people, extending upon generations of weavers who’ve maintained the highest possible standards of design and quality.

Comprising hand-spun yarn, Wongchai’s textiles have significant meaning for Thailand’s Tai Lue ethnic group. Originally from Yunnan in southern China, they are relatively new to Thailand, having first entered the country a little over a hundred years ago. Tai Lue textiles feature motifs such as water chestnuts, flowers, vines, birds, animals, geometric patterns, and water ripples—visually beautiful elements that also have symbolic meaning. Suriya Wongchai is highly skilled in design as well as construction, so it’s no wonder his textiles feature such a beguiling combination of motif and color.