Textiles - Silk Weaving Laos: From Cocoon to Your Bed!
29 Sep 2015
I definitely count my blessings for having these amazing opportunities to travel, experience first hand, discover and learn from different people from around the world. Our world is full of talented people and wonders. In Laos, I traveled the remote northeast corner of the country, from Xam Neua to Xam Tai and southwards towards Phonsavan, where some of the most exquisite and intricate silk textiles on this planet are produced. But before the weaving takes place, there is the silk yarn. Here is a story I hope you will enjoy - the story of silk weaving starting from mulberry trees.
Mulberry leaves are the staple diet of the silk worms. The trees are grown in villages where the silk weaving takes place. Some weavers buy silk yarn from other villages who just produce silk.
The silk worms are fed with chopped mulberry leaves. In Laos it takes approximately 30 days for the tiny caterpillars to become adult size and start the process of weaving the cocoon.
The silk worm only takes about 2 days to wrap itself in silk threads, measuring approximately 900 meters when stretched out.
Annato seeds are used to obtain this rich yellow colour with golden tinge. All natural colourants are indigenous to the area.
Indigo plant is used for blue and black colours.
Different coloured silk yarns, obtained by using natural dyes from leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, barks, and roots.
The traditional silk weaving in Laos, especially in the Northeast region, are famous for the intricate technique and high quality. The design and patterns are in the weaver's head, skills that they have learned over the years since they were little girls. It is truly mesmerising watching them work and quite awe inspiring!
This short clip shows you the technique of the Houaphan weaving. The designs are extremely intricate. Besides the warp and the weft, the weaver uses secondary wefts. Before each weft is crossed, the weaver hand ties and crisscrosses several coloured silk threads (secondary wefts) into the warp. The end result is an incorporated hand embroidered weaving!
An idyllic rural scene where all these beautiful textiles are created!
From Cocoon to your Bed! This piece took more than 3 months full time to make.