If you travel 10 km on the Chom Thong–Hot Road south from Wat Pra That Si Chom Thong, and then follow the sign to Baan Rai Pai Ngam and pass through an astonishing bamboo tunnel, you will come to a traditional wooden house surrounded by trees that overlooks the River Ping. This is where the Pa Da Cotton Textile Museum is located.
This century-old house was once a holiday home belonging to Chao Kaew Nawarat of the Lanna royal family, but it was sold to the current owner’s grandfather, who settled there with his wife. They lived upstairs while utilizing the first floor as a weaving space. Naowarat “Thom” Bansiddhi, the current owner, recalled that her grandmother loved to weave ever since picking up the skill when she was only five years old. She would spend the day dyeing and weaving, creating works known for their delicate patterns and magnificent palettes of color. She would use materials from around the house to make natural dyes, creating a distinctive Baan Rai Pai Ngam hue. She later set up a weaving group that, in turn, generated income for the local community. In 1986, Grandmother Saengda Bansiddhi (Pa Da) was named a national artist in the visual art (textiles).
Naowarat loves her grandmother. During childhood she often hung around watching her work and similarly absorbing her love for textiles. Her grandmother taught her the importance of colors. Understanding color opens possibilities and is a matter of personal taste that cannot be imitated. Naowarat recalled the day when she impressed her grandmother with her choice of color. That was the moment she had become able to use color the way her grandmother would, who told her that she had learned everything she needed to.
When her grandmother passed away in 1991, Naowarat vowed that she would not abandon textile making. A year later, she turned the house into a living museum to tell her grandmother’s story and share her works. Naowarat personally gives presentations to visitors with the hope of inspiring those who are interested.
Pa Da Cotton Textile Museum is free of charge. Even though running a museum is costly, Naowarat is determined. She believes that museums preserve the roots of communities, and to abandon hers would be like cutting off her own roots. She would love to be part of an organization that establishes a network of museums to help sustain each other.