Endowed with a fertile land, Thailand was in the past an agricultural society with people making their own farming tools. Basketry was a craft for making tools from locally sourced materials for use in daily life and in the field. Through weaving and interlacing, each tool has its own unique shape depending on its function and the material used and in relation to the living and geographic conditions, traditions and beliefs of each locality. These physical and cultural elements give unique features to traditional Thai basketry in different regions.
Natural materials used in Thai basketry are aplenty, including bamboo of different species found across the country, which offers one of the most suitable materials. Bamboo aside, different geographical conditions also produce other plants suitable for basketry, including those in the palm family whose leaves are perfect for weaving, such as sugar palm, coconut and fan palm, and those naturally grown by the seaside, such as pandan, widely used by coastal and island people. Other groups of plants perfect for basketry include rattan, khla (Donax arundastrum Lour.), khlum (Donax canniformis), saek, sedges, grey sedge (Lepironia articulate), yan li phao (Lygodium) and other kinds of grass.
Patterns of basketry are unique to each locality, and are called differently even if they bear the same design. Overall, they are categorized as crossed, diagonal, coiled and free patterns.
Bamboo containers for holding cooked glutinous rice made in the North (right) and the Northeastern (left) Thailand