Cha Long Phra Ong Khrui

King Bhumipol Adulyadei, wearing the 'cha long phra ong khrui'. King Bhumipol Adulyadei, wearing the 'cha long phra ong khrui'.

Cha long phra ong khrui is a Thai term used to describe a very formal coat worn by the Thai king on important ceremonial occasions. The coat is basically made from a gold net embellished with gold embroidery. The garment is classed as a sua khrui, which means the ‘official or insignia robe,’ but the term cha long phra ong khrui refers specifically to the king’s version.

A cha long phra ong khrui is a loose-fitting outer garment with long sleeves. It is open down the front and usually reaches to the knees or mid-calves. The production of the garments was restricted to a specific workshop that was supervised by a prince. The making of such garments was often the work of highly skilled court ladies, who were often of royal descent.

The cha long phra ong khrui is traditionally made from a netted fabric worked with gold thread and applied decoration on top of the netting. The gold net (krongthong) is hand-made, using a specific knotting technique called thak ta chun. It is used to create a series of loose knots, creating a very open mesh fabric in some areas and a much denser net in others.

Cha long phra ong khrui is made out of five pieces of gold thread netting: two panels for the front, a back panel and two sleeve pieces. The borders of the panels are often made with a thicker thread or more densely knotted net in order to provide sturdy edges. After each piece is embroidered the five panels are sewn together.

The decoration on a cha long phra ong khrui includes gold and silk thread embroidery, as well as applied beetle wing, glass beads, jewels and spangles. In the older examples, a metallic wire is often used for the embroidery, while in later ones a gold thread wrapped around a silk core (passing) tends to be used. There are also examples of platinum threads being used. These very highly priced threads are still being made in France and India at the beginning of the twenty-first century for extremely prestigious embroidery.

Because the embroidery and applied objects are usually much heavier than the krongthong netting itself, a ‘sandwich’ is made with some thickish sketch paper, the netting and finally the embroidery and applied objects. The paper is used to anchor the embroidery threads and support applied objects, such as the beads.

A cha long phra ong khrui is specifically embellished with symbols of royal power, such as nagas (mythical serpents), Garuda (a mythical bird), as well as dragons, floral vines, insignia and monograms.

Source: BRENNAN, Julia M. and Yaowalak BUNNAG (2014). ‘Thai official rank robes (sua khrui): History, fabrication and the conservation of Admiral de Richelieu’s 19th century robe,' Arts of Asia, May-June, pp. 99-113. Click here for download (retrieved 28 March 2017).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 28 March 2017).


Last modified on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 18:16
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