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    Computer class of S'gaw students
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    Tai-art  mural painting of  Buddha 
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  Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
Ethnic Groups Research Database
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Subject Tai, Tai Long, Shan, dress, mural painting, Chiang Mai
Author Piyachat Udomsri
Title A study of the Shan dress from mural paintings in Tha Kham Temple, Mae Taeng District, and Buak Khrok Luang Temple, Muang District, Chiang Mai Province
Document Type Research Paper Original Language of Text Thai
Ethnic Identity Tai, Tai Luang ,Shan, Language and Linguistic Affiliations Tai
Location of
SirindhornAnthropology Center Total Pages 83 Year 2005
Source Faculty to Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University

This investigation was a preliminary report on Shan traditional dress from mural paintings in Tha Kham and Buak Khrok Luang Temples. The study presented a historical background, patterns of settlement, culture and customs, beliefs, and the traditional dress of the Shan in relation to the mural paintings. The dress reflected the social status of individuals in the Shan society: kings, noblemen, ladies-in-waiting, soldiers, and commoners, in order to portray the aesthetics of the dress and to analyze stories, patterns, artistic components, color use, and Buddhist cosmology related to the mural paintings.
The paintings found in the two temples generally retain the air of Lanna. They are culture-based and idealistic rather than realistic. Acrylic and natural dyes were used (p. 12), expressing only two dimensions: width and length. Few paintings were given light and shadow, making them look somewhat three dimensional. The paintings are divided into sections using tree lines or colored walls as dividers. Color use was relatively flat, however, employing lines of different weights and sizes to express roundness and thickness, and thus making the paintings less flat. Shapes of humans, animals, plants, and building structures are realistic with some modifications tending to be culturally idealistic. Gold leaf was used to emphasize important figures like kings and noblemen. These figures were in elaborate and exquisite attires, giving out gentle, peaceful and indifferent feelings. Figures of commoners or soldiers were in movements with realistic attires, as noted on the creases of their clothes. Shan dress in this investigation is classified into two groups: in real life and in the paintings. Dress is gender-based, varying in size and proportion according to different ages. They are made from unrefined hand-spun cotton with gray, indigo and black colors (p. 19). A Shan man wears a turban called Khong Pong, which is a long white piece of cloth ten inches wide and two meters long. A cone-shaped hat is also worn, made from the bark of a special kind of tree or woven from bamboo strips. The latter is cheap and is worn while working.
A woman’s blouse is called Kui Tang, a long-sleeved, Chinese-style blouse, and a man’s shirt is called Kui Heng, a collarless, long-sleeved front split shirt with cloth buttons and worn over a thin T-shirt. Man’s trousers are called Kong Hong Yong, loose ankle-length pants held at the waist by a twisted knot. Dark colors like black, blue or brown are used to express politeness (p. 33). A Shan woman wears a sleeveless or long-sleeved blouse called Sua Yong with various cutting styles. It is usually body-tight. Unmarried women wear colorful, body-tight and thin blouses, whereas married women wear white, thick and long-sleeved blouses. Colorful sarongs are worn at ankle length and twisted in a knot on the side, unlike the style worn by Lanna women where the knot is twisted in the middle. The colors of their dresses are bright like shocking pink, green or pink (p. 33). Shan women twist their hair into a bun. Unmarried women wear a high bun with a straight cut on their forehead called Satok, and decorate their buns with yellow orchids. Married women wear their buns at the back. Turbans are usually worn for heat and dust protection while working. The cloth is colorful, but older women opt for black or white. Additionally, Shan people of all ages like to carry shoulder bags (pp. 21-23). A very unique and distinct dress is worn by a Sang Long, a boy to be ordained as a novice. The boy wears a top knot called Jong, with a fine thin piece of cloth tightly wound around the head as a turban, decorated with yellow orchids. A Sang Long shirt is made of colorful, fine and thin lace, decorated with colorful bows on the shoulders. He also wears a necklace made from five to seven pieces of flat round thin gold sheets, called Khaep Khor. A sash, called Lor Pae, is put on in addition to bangles, rings, earrings, and watches. A long and wide piece of cloth is worn instead of trousers, with its end going between the legs and held tightly at the lower back. The color has to match with the shirt. A belt is not used, so a piece of cloth is used in place of the belt. Shin-length socks are worn (pp. 24-25). The dress of the figures in the paintings indicates the social status of individuals. A king wears a crown and two layers of shirts with a short-sleeved shirt worn over a long-sleeved one. The shirts are decorated with barges and a neck dress. The lower body is covered by a long piece of cloth with its end going between the legs and held tightly at the lower back (pp. 44, 64). A king also wears shoes. A prince wears a turban and two layers of shirts. The outer shirt contains small black crosses in the middle, making them look like a sash. The inner shirt has dots all over the sleeves (p. 58). An exquisite piece of cloth is worn at the front. The cloth is light and dark blue in color, interspersed with red dots. The style is the influence of Burmese culture, where a nobleman sits on the neck of an elephant (p. 59). Some princes wear Chinese-style shirts with a piece of white cloth worn over their shoulders (p. 60). Ladies-in-waiting are topless, but wear shawls. Their sarongs are of wavy colors of black, white and red. They also wear necklaces and bangles (p. 63). Soldiers are topless, wear turbans and tattoos on their legs as well as a piece of cloth with checked and wavy patterns worn over the lower body (p. 45). Some wear white or blue Chinese-style shirts and tattoos (p. 61). Male commoners wear tattoos on their upper legs, a loin cloth, a crew-cut hairstyle, and wide-brimmed hats (pp. 43, 75). Some wear red turbans, red Chinese-style shirts, and white shorts or long loose pants (p. 62). Female commoners are topless and wear turbans, tattoos on their legs and a piece of cloth with checkered and wavy patterns worn over the lower body with its end going between the legs and held tightly at the lower back. The ethnic performances found in Mae Hong Son Province include Shan dance, sword dance, and mythical bird dance (p. 18).

Text Analyst Pornarin Permpoon Date of Report Apr 04, 2013
TAG Tai, Tai Long, Shan, dress, mural painting, Chiang Mai, Translator Chalermchai Chaichomphu


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