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Granted a personal audience

Some 10 years ago, Boonma Srichan, a Ban Nong Bua farmer in tambon Donkok in Buri Ram's Na Pho district, went to sell the cloth she had woven in Khon Kaen. On the way, she ran into the motorcade of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and took the opportunity to tell the Bureau of Royal Household officials about her hard life as a farmer.

Months later, some royal guards headed to Ban Nong Bua, along with aides from the bureau, and helped promote the farmers' sideline by raising silkworms and weaving Mud Mee silk cloth for sale at branches of the Princess' Phufa shop.

Around 2004, Boonma, bored with the same old patterns, initiated the weaving of a new zodiac pattern, modelling the Year of the Dog sign on HM the King's pet dog Khun Thong Daeng.

The Mud Mee silk zodiac set was delivered to the Phufa shop as usual. But this time Boonma was told by Bureau of the Royal Household officials that HM the King wanted to meet her.

"I was shocked, and promptly called my children, thinking I might be in trouble because I had woven the silk cloth in a Khun Thong Daeng pattern. The children told me I should calm down because many people produced clothing with Khun Thong Daeng's image and they didn't get into trouble.

"I was confused and scared, but my children said it was OK if I was arrested because my life was already given to the King because he is our father," she recalled.

"The first thing HM the King said was he wanted to talk to me and wanted to know why I made this cloth in a Khun Thong Daeng pattern. I prostrated myself in front of him and hurriedly told him that I wanted to create something different and never intended to offend him and I shouldn't do it again.

"His Majesty told me I should not weave it like this again and shouldn't put Khun Thong Daeng together with other animals. If I wanted to do it, I should show only Khun Thong Daeng and in many poses," she added.

Boonma said that although time had passed, every time she thought about her meeting with the King she felt joyful.

"I never thought I would have a chance to met him that close - it's my great karma to have had this chance in life," she said.

Boonma added that she and her fellow poor farmers could stand on their feet again with the silk-weaving sideline because of the great mercy of HM the King and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.




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