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Siho and Naga – Lao Textiles

Reflecting a People’s Tradition and Change

Edeltraud Tagwerker

Siho and Naga are the most powerful mythological figures in Lao tradition manifested in their textiles. This book focuses on the history and culture of the creators of exquisitely hand woven fabrics that have attracted textile connoisseurs all over the world. The study leads not only to rare weaving techniques, patterns and natural dyes, but also to a vast ethnic diversity of people who used to live self sufficiently of their natural environment in rural areas or under royal patronage in ancient cities. Textiles have always been an integral part of the social and spiritual life of Lao people who now, after a devastating war, are challenged to come to terms with tourism, cash, and global market strategies. Siho and Naga shall raise awareness for urgent educational reform countrywide and encourage local and international preservers of Lao culture to continue their efforts to the benefit of Lao’s young generation, who eventually will grasp the value of their own textiles in order to set them against cheap imports.

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Acknowledgements

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This book is the result of my initial attraction to Lao textiles upon my first arrival in Laos in 2004. From the moment, I saw those splendid Lao silk skirts I was fas- cinated by the variety of colours and patterns. I wanted to find out more about the skill and ingenuity of their creators, their background, and culture. In this endeav- our, I was pleased to meet so much sympathy by Lao people and foreigners alike whose assistance helped me in many ways. My special thanks go to the Sisane family from Lao Textile Museum, who trusted me right from the beginning, giving me access to their textile collection, providing professional information, and willingly shared their personal stories. For similar friendly responsiveness my thanks go to the Nanthavongduangsy family from Phaeng Mai Gallery, Carol Cassidy from Lao Textiles, and Ms Jancome from Maicome who spent their time readily telling me about their experience to set up and maintain their enterprises in Vientiane. For the help to get more insight into ethnic groups I am very grateful to the own- ers of various bookshops in Vientiane who let me use UNESCO research papers and recent publications, as well as to Bernard Aubert and Christelle Peybernes for their update on the Akha including their photographs. Finally, I want to thank our Lao friend Thazane Soutichack for taking me to villages and towns in Kham- mouane and Bolikhamxay, for translating and letting me explore the mentality of his kind-hearted people. Last but...

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