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Title: A hidden culture : Lan Na court textiles and dress in the 19th century
Author: Conway, S. M.
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2000
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The inland states of Lan Na were part of an extended cultural area that included western Laos, the eastern Shan states and southwest China. The culture of these inland states was distinctive from coastal Southeast Asia, but was as rich and as complex. The major outside influence was Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism originating from Sri Lanka, which assimilated, or in some cases was grafted onto, ancient indigenous spirit religion beliefs. The textiles and dress of Lan Na developed from the integration of local cultures and societies in the hills and valleys, and from inland trade. A relatively egalitarian ideology permitted the flowering of indigenous skills and innovations, especially among women. This thesis examines, through the medium of 19th century court dress and textiles, how Lan Na society was affected by the threat of British and French colonial expansionism, handled with great skill and diplomacy by the King of Siam. Changes in Lan Na court dress can be viewed as a metaphor for the political maneuvers of the Siamese to remain independent of colonial rule, a unique achievement in Southeast Asia. The Lan Na princes were issued with Euro-Siamese uniforms that displayed their total allegiance to Siam. Meanwhile the princesses continued to wear indigenous dress both at home, and at the Siamese courts, symbolizing political alliances between Siam and Lan Na. The thesis concludes that as women, by custom, did not change the essential elements of their dress, particularly their woven skirts, it was they who transmitted complex cultural messages that continue to represent a cherished indigenous society
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: King of Siam; Southeast Asia; Colonial expansion History Art