Lanna (Northern Thailand) has a long textile tradition and legacy of master weavers. Textiles were woven for specific purposes using the fabric to the full by creating garments without cutting into the selvedge. There were tube skirts (phaa sin) and breast cloths (phaa sabai) for women, and sarong (phaa nung) or farmer pants ( tieo sador) for men. To this day people of Lanna still wear traditional clothes to official and festive occasions, including the hilltribes whose diverse identity is expressed through their colorful and varied clothing styles.
The back-strap loom is still used by most of the hill tribes creating traditional narrow fabrics, but have also evolved with innovative designs for modern living. The lowland frame loom is still popular in the villages using hand-shuttles for elaborate textiles and fly-shuttles for yardage in beautiful textures and natural fibers. Shawls, scarves, fabric for clothing and upholstery are in demand by international designers for the overseas market.
Northern Thai weavers comprising 7 hilltribe groups and 3 lowland Tai groups are skilled in complex decorative techniques including supplementary weft, weft brocade using gold and silver yarns, multi-shaft weaves, warp ikat, appliqué, couching and outstanding embroidery. The recent introduction of weft ikat , batik, printing and placement weaving has broadened the creative capacity of these artisans and many skilled weaves are creating works of art.