Sin Tin Chok Tube Skirt
A sin tin chok, a kind of traditional tube skirt, consists of three portions: the top, the body, and the foot.
The bottom part, called tin (“foot”) or choeng, is woven with a technique called chok (“to pick and pull”) into special motifs, which mark the special occasions on which the skirt is to be worn. The decorative foot is called tin chok and it is made (in the style which is unique to the local communities) mainly in Mae Chaem District, Chiang Mai Province, and Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai Province.
The chok technique involves both weaving and embroidering simultaneously. The chok motifs are created by inserting extra wefts at well-specified points or stretches. Large bamboo needles, porcupine spines, or the little fingers are used for picking and pulling up the weft threads in various colours over the warps to create the desired motifs.
The traditional tin chok skirt produced by weavers in Mae Chaem District is a cultural heritage of the Tai-Yuan ethnic group. These weavers prefer to make tin chok skirts from cotton cloth dyed with natural substances. They also prefer quite dense motifs on the background of black warps, while the red warps are reserved for the lowest part, called the lep (“toenails”) of the skirt, which is usually left undecorated except for the hang sapao or thin lines of black and white threads. In the traditional chok technique of the Mae Chaem weavers, the motifs are woven with the wrong side of the cloth facing the weaver.
The traditional tin chok technique of the villagers in Hat Siao Village, Si Satchanalai District has been passed on through generations of the Tai-Phuan ethnic group. These weavers prefer to use red threads for both the wefts and the warps. Multi-colour threads are inserted to produce spaced-out motifs that allow the red background to feature prominently. The motifs spread out all over the fabric. The narrow lep appears in yellow at the bottom edge. The Hat Siao Tin Chok motifs are woven with the right side of the cloth facing the weaver.
Besides being a testimony to the intricate art of the weavers, the beautiful sin tin chok also reflects the social practice among the Tai-Lao ladies who customarily wear these skirts for important occasions, such as the merit-making ceremonies at the temples and the weddings. It shows that they are ready to assume the responsibility of a housewife.