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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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The Main Principles of Buddhism The doctrines of Buddhism can be separated into three broad categories: The Hinayana – The Mahayana – The Vajrayana Although these are not different schools of Buddhism, they are a convenient way of un- derstanding the development of Buddhist belief and practice. The Hinayana (or Shravakayana) – also known as the “small path”, or “lesser vehicle” The Buddha taught that life is experienced as suffering (duhkha). This suffering comes about because of one’s attachment, both to oneself and to external people and objects. At- tachment causes suffering because everything, including oneself, is impermanent (anitya). One’s attachment can never be satisfied because there is nothing permanent to satisfy it. The Buddha taught that all sentient beings (humans, animals, and insects) are trapped in a cycle of suffering, because the results of their actions (karma) create more attachment, and ultimately further suffering. This cycle continues beyond death, since it is believed that after death sentient beings are reborn. The cycle is called Samsara, and to achieve enlightenment and escape from the cycle is Nirvana. To attain Nirvana, it is necessary to give up the things to which one is attached by following the life of a monk or nun. It is also necessary to transform one’s mind through study and meditation. For a layperson, a higher rebirth can be attained through the accumulation of merit (punya) by activities such as the donation of food to monks. These higher rebirths may ultimately lead to a monastic life and, eventually, the achievement...

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