Each village of each Hmong ethnic group has a specific combination of colours and patterns to differentiate itself, both hemp and indigo are widely used.
Hemp is woven into narrow strips that are embellished with batik patterns and dyed with indigo. The strips are embroidered in cross-stitch patterns. Some also have appliqued details of small squares of printed fabric. The strips are assembled into skirts with pleats created by pulling numerous parallel rows of basted threads into narrow, tight folds. When the skirts are not in use, the basting stitches are replaced to preserve the pleats.
Making indigo dye is an ancient art and steeped in myths. Menstruating women are kept away from the indigo jars for fear of upsetting the “indigo spirit” and rendering the dye useless.
Indigo dye is made from the leaves and shoots of the “kharm” plant, which grows in many areas in Laos. Getting the raw materials for indigo may be easy, but making it is an art. It involves fermentation of the “kharm” and keeping the mixture in air-tight jars at the required temperature.
Natural indigo contains no chemicals or toxic metals and wearing fabrics dyed with indigo is believed to be good for the skin.
Colours from Nature
Saoban’s artisans create colours from nature using a combination of traditional techniques, knowledge passed down through generations, innovation, and trial and error.
We will write a seperarte post about the incredible work Saoban is doing but for now this will have to keep you satisfied…Saoban is a fair trade social business that works with traditional handicraft artisans to preserve and promote Lao village crafts. They work under the principles of fair trade to create employment opportunities for villagers, especially women, and reduce poverty.
For more information: http://www.saobancrafts.com/
Or visit the store: Chao Anou Road, 97/1 Ban Watchan, Chantabouly, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Saoban was founded by Somath Somphone. Sombath Somphone disappeared on 15 December 2012 in Vientiane, Lao PDR and has not been seen since. A website has been set up to help facilitate his return. www.sombath.org