Sgaw Karen women usually wear skirts made of tied and dyed ('ikat') cotton. These are woven on a backstrap loom, in two sections which are then sewn together. The skirt is wrapped and tied with a belt, rather than folded and tucked like the conventional sarong. The Python Skin stripes on Sgaw Karen women’s skirts such as on this piece suggests a close affinity with nature - the legendary inspiration for this design tells of a weaver who was forced to create the pattern while in the captivity of a white python. The Karen is the largest tribal group in Thailand comprising two main divisions (the Sgaw and Pwo) and smaller sub-groups. Thought to have originated from Tibet, they migrated into Thailand from Burma during the 18th century.

Mid 20th century, c.1960s
Northern Thailand
Object size: 82.8 x 143 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Garments and Accessories