Thai Hand-Printed Cotton Khomapastr Rss feed Twitter button Facebook button

Cotton clothes are known to be comfortable because they're made of natural fiber, that breathes well. Other than giving a pleasant feel on your skin, certain cotton fabrics can also add more life to your wardrobe, with its lively motifs and designs.

Khomapastr is an original hand-printed cotton with both classical Thai and contemporary designs, which offers you both exotic and familiar looks.

The Origin Of Khomapastr

Thanks to His Royal Highness Prince Bavoradej and his wife Her Serene Highness Princess Pajongrachit Kritakara who founded this cotton weaving and dying workshop in Hua Hin, in 1948. M.R. Vibhasiri Vuttinant, one of their three daughters, stated that the original ambition was to start a business that would preserve classical Thai design and create jobs for local people in Hua Hin.

M.R. Vibhasiri Vuttinant kindly assisted me by answering many questions about Khomapastr. With the prince's great interest in screen printing by hand and his dedication to research and development in this trade, Khomapastr became Thailand's first hand-printed cotton brand. The business has grown to be well known both among Thais and foreign visitors. Today his daughters and the third generation continue to run and excel this classic hand-printing tradition.

Hua-Hin And Khomapastr

In the 1940s, Hua Hin was the most desired seaside resort amongst Thais traveling from Bangkok, and foreign visitors traveling with the southern railroad line heading for Hat Yai or Malaysia. Hua Hin was the first and the most luxurious beach resort in Thailand. It also had the first standard 18-hole golf course, the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course, and the grandest hotel east of the Suez canal, which was the Railroad Hotel. The hotel is located on Hua Hin's gorgeous white sandy beach.

Visitors could travel with automobile, train, and even the classic Siam Vorasumpon steam boat. All these factors contributed in making Hua Hin a popular holiday resort.

Many members of the royal family and social elites built their seaside summer homes along Hua Hin beach. The prince and his family also owned land in this sunny seaside village, the place where he decided to start a hand-printing cotton workshop.

These seaside home owners learned about his hand-printed cotton by word-of-mouth and many of them become loyal customers. This group of customers, as well as locals and visitors to Hua Hin have continued to patronize Khomapastr store until today.

Meaning Behind The Name Khomapastr

In Thailand, names usually have meanings. It's an honor and a blessing to ask someone who is highly respected in society to give a name to a child or a company. His Royal Highness Prince Bavoradej asked a monk to suggest a name for him. The monk gave the cotton workshop the name Khomapastr.

Khomapastr is made up of two words; khom and pastr, which is short from pastrapon. Khom means white cloth while pastrapon means women's accessories.

My Experience With Khomapastr Cotton

I first heard about this original hand-printed Thai cotton when I was young. An aunt, who traveled through Hua Hin, bought a light blouse with classical Thai motifs and an exclusive table cloth as souvenirs for my parents, who were living in Prachuap Khirikhan. She also had a couple of small pillows in her car, made of Khomapastr hand-printed cotton fabric.

Later on while I worked at the former Sofitel Central Hua Hin Hotel (presently Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin), I became attracted to the charm and addicted to the comfort of Khomapastr fabric. Then, I bought this Hua Hin hand-printed fabric to make clothes for myself and my parents. The fabric is very easy to handle and care for. You can either put the clothes in the washing machine or hand wash them.

Another benefit of Khomapastr fabric, that I have first-hand experience with, is that it doesn't get wrinkled easily. In addition, it breaths well and dries quickly too. If you travel often, you will like Khomapastr fabric even more because they're light-weight and don't take up a lot of space in your suitcase.

To make the printed motifs on the fabric last longer, hand wash or machine wash them using a laundry net bag and hang dry the clothes. Dry the clothes inside out, away from direct sunlight.

It's been a decade since I had those clothes made, but they are still in a good condition. The texture of the fabric has become softer and the colors of the motifs have become lighter, due to regular use.

Khomapastr Is A Quality Brand Name

The Thai designs on the fabric have been copied from a classical Thai design book at the National Museum in Bangkok.
Khomapastr Thai hand-printed cotton is available in Hua Hin and Bangkok

Khomapastr's logo was based on a classical design called dok jig.

While most factories machine print patterns on textile, Khomapastr continue to hand-print their designs. 77 Workers produce about 900 yards of Khomapastr hand-printed fabric per day. This guarantees a high standard of every Khomapastr product. The company aims to deliver only the highest quality fabrics.

Types Of Fabric

Hand-printed cotton with classical Thai designs is the unique characteristic of Khomapastr fabric. Originally, the Khomapastr workshop in Hua-Hin had its own hand looms to weave the thick cotton, which later would be hand-printed with classical Thai designs.

Later on, the manual cotton weaving was unable to meet the high market demand. As a result, the management started to buy cotton from Ratchaburi province. Today thick and fine cotton, cotton blend and voile are purchased from factories in Bangkok.

At times, Khomapastr print their designs on silk and chiffon textiles as made-to-order products for their customers. However, Khomapastr's hand-printing techniques are most suitable for cotton.

At Khomapastr Shop, you can buy fabric per yard, as well as clothes, ranging from men's short sleeve shirts to women's and children's clothes. In addition, it's a place to shop for bags, decorative items for your home like table clothes, pillows and gift items.

Motifs And Designs

Khomapastr Thai hand-printed cotton features many designs

In the past 60 years, Khomapastr has created over 1,000 designs. There are 7 main types of designs:

1. Exclusive gold-printed classical Thai design called pha kiao

2. Classical Thai designs such as kranok

3. Thai cultural designs such as khon masks, royal barges, Thai characters and phai tdong cards

4. Traditional Thai lifestyle motifs such as Thai houses and children playing games

5. Plants and flowers such as poppy flowers and Madagascar periwincles

6. Animals such as rabbits, cats, shells and dragonflies

7. Graphical patterns and designs
Khomapastr exclusive gold-printed cotton fabric place mats
Pha kiao was formerly used for outer garments by the king's consorts.

Today, Khomapastr's pha kiao is most suitable for interior design such as curtains, cushions, pillows and other home decorative items.

Finding Khomapastr Stores

There are 3 branches of Khomapastr stores and two of them are located in Bangkok. The main branch is on Nares Road, between Siphaya Road and Surawong Road. The subbranch is at the Miracle Mall, by Sukhumvit Soi 41. The Khomapastr store in Hua Hin is located on Petchkasem Road. It's just in front of Villa Market and the factory is nearby. The three stores offer sales twice a year, which is around Father's Day, December 5th, and Mother's Day, August 12th.

Khomapastr hand-printed fabric is also available at Waraphorn Shop, located at Hua Hin Soi 39, off Petchkasem Road. If you will be near the Hua Hin Night Market during the day, you can also buy this unique fabric at Phaiboon shop. The shop is located in Hua Hin Soi 57, also called Dechanuchit Road, off Petchkasem Road. The shop is near Naeb Kehad Road intersection.

Exclusive Thai gold-printed cotton pillows and cushion covers
For those of you who travel to Bangkok, you can see Khomapastr's grand showcase at the Vimarnmek Teak Palace that belonged to the late King Rama V.

Visiting Khomapastr

Seeing the cloth is one thing, observing how to make this authentic cloth is something else. If you wonder how this exotic gold-printed classical Thai design comes to life, you can find out at the Khomapastr printing factory in Hua Hin. Tours are arranged by appointment only. Just write a letter to the management stating your intention to visit the factory, the number of people in your group and the date and time of your visit. Once your request has been approved, you are all set for a complimentary visit to the Khomapastr hand-printed cotton factory.

If you'd like to buy some souvenirs, which can tell stories about Thailand, drop by one of the Khomapastr stores in Bangkok or Hua Hin. This way your loved ones will remember your visit to Thailand for years to come...

Photos: Courtesy of Khomapastr.

Suggested Reading:   Traditional Thai Crafts   Thai Sarong

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