The Thai silk weavers of Baan Krua

Jim Thompson House

To visit the Jim Thompson House at Klong San Sap, is one of the most impressive
and exciting ways to explore Thai History, within the art collection of Mr. Thompson.


For more information, visit the Jim Thompson website:

The Jim Thompson House

You reach it via BTS / Sky Train or by taking a ride on a public boat (Klong Maha Nak)
and getting off directly at the boat stop, next to the museum.

Address: Jim Thompson House, 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok



boat ride along Klong
Maha Nak

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Baan Krua Community and Jim Thompson:

Last time, at the end of my journey in March 2011, I visited the Jim Thompson House for a guided tour and asked our guide at the end where the silk for Jim Thompson products is coming from. Where the company produces the silk from the silk worm cocoons for their beautiful products. The guide said that the silk for their products is coming from Khorat (Nakhon Ratchasim).
At Nakhon Ratchasim district some more companies are growing the mulberry trees for the silk worm.

But in earlier decades the silk was woven just across the Klong
San Sab
(Saen Saab canal), at Baan Krua (Muslim Family Village) the Lady said and wrote the address down for me. After visiting the famous boutique at Jim Thompson house, I crossed the bridge for a walk along the narrow footpath to find Soi 9, which is just across the San Sab canal from Jim Thompson house.

History of Baan Krua:

Baan Krua is one of Bangkok's oldest communities. It dates to the turbulent years at the end of the 18th century, when Cham Muslims from Cambodia and Vietnam fought on the side of the new Thai King Rama I during The Burmese-Siamese wars and were rewarded with this plot of land east of the new capital.

(More about Cham people at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cham_(Asia))

The immigrants brought their silk–weaving traditions with them, and the community grew with the arrival of other Muslims. The weavers supplied Mr. Thompson with their silk when he started his Thai Silk Company in 1948. He asked them to produce a sample batch of silks which he took to New York. The silks hit Vogue magazine and from then on Jim Thompson silk took off. Thompson worked with a group of eight Cham families who produced the silk for his Thai silk company. In the 1950s and 60s he exported their silk around the globe.
After Jim Thompson disappeared in the jungle of Malaysia, the production was moved to Khorat (short name for Nathon Ratchasima) district and a lot of the Muslim families have moved out of the area.

But one of the original families is still weaving silk on old teak looms:

The family of Niphon Manuthas (http://www.phamaibaankrua.com)

Khun Niphon ist the only descendant from the original eight families. Phamai Baan Krua today deals directly with their costumers. They do not supply Jim Thompson stores since the Thompson Silk Company has its own factory in Khorat.
The village consists of tiny little homes and narrow footpaths inbetween. I loved to walk around there and see how people live. But bring to your mind that you are wandering through other people's gardens and backyards.
I found the Soi 9 and the tiny silk factory of Khun Niphon Manuthat, who runs Phamai Baan Krua.
The owner asked me to step in and I took my shoes off and entered the house.
I asked for taking pictures and within a few minutes the atmosphere got me completely.
In the backyard, men dyed silk in different colors like magenta, turquoise and yellow.
In the next room the yarn was spooled on coils.

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