Sgaw Karen women usually wear indigo or black homespun cotton blouses with diamond-shaped patterns in the lower half, embellished with Job's-tear seeds (a hardy tropical white grass). Girls learn to make their own dresses at the age of ten. Pwo Karen girls add red diamond shapes to the lower section and red threads are added to the mid-section for ceremonial occasions such as funerals. A Karen bride changes from her dress into a blouse and skirt during her marriage to signify her new status.The Karen is the largest tribal group in Thailand comprising two main divisions (the Sgaw and Pwo) and smaller sub-groups. Originally thought to have come from Tibet, they migrated into Thailand from Burma during the 18th century.

Mid 20th century, c.1960s
Northern Thailand
Object size: 78.5 x 69 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Garments and Accessories