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Jim Thompson is an American who joined the U.S. Army and came to Thailand as part of the force that would liberate the nation during the Second World War. Even though the war ended, he arrived later as military intelligence for the O.S.S. After resigning from the forces, he returned to live and work in Bangkok. An architect, textile colourist and designer, Jim Thompson soon became intrigued by what was then known as a cottage industry, the weaving of Thai silk.
He was responsible for the development of the Thai silk industry which led it to becoming recognised worldwide. Today his home has been converted to become a museum. As a tribute to his undying commitment and enthusiasm over a dying art, Jim Thompson House is a famous tourist attraction in Bangkok.
His appreciation for Asian art extended to architecture. Jim Thompson’s home is fine display of traditional Thai architecture. His commitment to authenticity was so great, that parts of his home are two centuries hold and were dismantled and brought in from Ayudhya (the ancient capital of Thailand). The house is elevated a full storey above the ground, which is said to safeguard the house from floods.
Jim Thompson was also known to collect Southeast Asian art, which at that time was hardly recognised internationally. And today, attracts scholars and artisans from across the world. Jim Thompson House remains a treasure to Thailand, a reminder of how a man who didn’t even speak their language embraced a culture and nation with arms wide open.
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