Reflecting a People’s Tradition and Change
Arriving in Laos, coming from Europe and queuing up for the visa, I saw them for the first time – Lao women with the most beautiful silk wrapped around their hips, with wide shiny colourful borders above thin ankles, and silver belts around slim waists. The Korean lady beside me watching me stare at them said: “These are their Sinh; they are of pure silk, hand woven, with all sorts of patterns and stripes, of which almost each ethnic group has their own”. True, in Vientiane in hotels and offices, on motorbikes and in the market, women were wearing skirts that kept catching my eye. I was fascinated by the great vari- ety of colours and patterns, not two of these skirts seemed to be the same. In the Morning Market pile upon pile of shiny cloth was stored in small stalls, not only skirts, but all kinds of precious hand woven silk was hanging on walls and rods, scarves long and short, wide and narrow, plain or with strange patterns for a European hard to figure out what it should mean. Somehow, I was drawn to these colourful weavings; each one lured with yet another pattern of mystic figures. I realised that I was hooked on Lao textiles and wanted to find out more. Starting in various handicrafts shops, I visited galleries and weaving villages, rummaged in bookshops and found not only valuable information about Lao tex- tiles and their role in society and economy, but also a growing concern...
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