Mo Hom is the traditional indigo dyeing process of the people in Phrea province, North Thailand. The creative community of Ban Thung Hong is a small village where local artisans are renowned for their textile technique and line the streets with their inventive indigo designs.
The term Mo Hom literally translates to Mo meaning pot and Hom which is the name of the indigo plant growing local to the landscape. Mo Hom is more than just a dying process, it is known as the pride of Phrea and is the signature style of labours to that area. Mo Hom clothes have been worn by local workers for generations as the original demand for the style was developed to meet the robust needs of living on the land. The design of the fabric is said to be more durable than regular cotton but cooler and more comfortable than denim, perfectly in tune with the Thai climate and it’s people.
Similar to Shibori, the art of Mo Hom has advanced in recent years to meet the design desires of creative consumers who are more than ever on the look out for authentic artisan products. Fabrics and fashion are often mathamatically manipulated into various arrangements. Depending on the strength of dye and time soaked in the solution, when the process is finished stunning shades of indigo will vary across a spectrum from midnight to sunlight blue, leaving behind the pretty pre-pleated patterns (watch the video).
Home Grown Mo Hom
In October 2015 I visited Ban Thung Hong and took an exclusive behind the scenes tour of a Mo Hom workshop and learnt about the production process of the plant.
- Indigo leaves are home grown and picked from the garden. The branches are tied in bundles and left to soak in vat of water mixed with lime plaster for 3 days.
- A concoction of tamarind, wooden ashes and rice liquid are also added to the vats before whisking the water into frothy foam.
- The mixture is then strained and the sedement can be saved for future production purposes when the leaves are no longer in season. The longer the preserved paste is saved, the more intense it will stain the material.
- Using various objects, pre fold your fabric with a design of your choice and submerge it into the dye solution for around 1 minute.
- When the fabric comes out the dye it will look green. Remove any pre-secured implements (such as wooden sticks, rubber bands etc) and watch the magic of oxygenisation before your eyes as the design will turn blue over a few minutes.
- Rinse the fabric 3-4 times until the water runs clear and hang to dry.
- Wash seperately from other clothes for 4-5 cycles.
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How to get there
- Plane: Nok Air has 2 flights per day, 6 days a week from Bangkok DMK – PRH Phrea airports
- Bus: There are air-conditioned coaches from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) on Bangkok’s Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road.
- Train: There are not direct rail links to Phrea
Where to stay
My tour was hosted by the TAT. We stayed at the stunning traditional Thai boutique Punka Nafa Hotel in Nan city. If you love textiles and crafts staying in a this hotel is an unique experience in itself.