Sua Khrui

King Bhumipol of Thailand, wearing his ceremonial 'sua khrui' robe. King Bhumipol of Thailand, wearing his ceremonial 'sua khrui' robe.

Sua khrui is a term that was used in Thailand to describe a particular type of court garment that indicated the rank of the male wearer. It is a loose-fitting outer garment with long sleeves. It is open down the front and usually reaches to the knees or mid-calves.

Such garments could not be worn without the express permission of the king, and to emphasise their exclusive and ritual nature the production of these garments was restricted to a single 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.

There are two main variations of the sua khrui. The first is an exclusively royal robe called the cha long phra ong khrui, which was made from gold thread tulle. The other version (also called sua khrui) was worn by high ranking officials and was made from a sheer white silk or cotton tulle with collar, cuffs, hem and pockets made of gold thread tulle. They were embellished with gold thread and other forms of embroidery worked into simple floral and vine motifs.

Although the sua khrui was only worn by men, the same netted cloth was used for prestigious clothing, such as dresses and accessories for high ranking women of the Thai court. Very young princes and others, including elderly men, wore the sua khrui on important ceremonial occasions, such as the Tonsure Ceremony (when a young prince’s topknot was ceremonially cut off) and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony (marking the beginning of the rice season).

The exact origins of the sua khrui are not known, although it has been suggested that it might have Iranian or North Indian influences, being related to a comparable garment called a choga that was worn in Afghanistan, Northern India and Iran. Another possibility is that it was influenced by the embroidered coats worn by high ranking officials in Myanmar (Burma) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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 18:27