Top 5 Textile things to do in Luang Prabang
1. Visit gold and silver embroidery, Silapa pak dinh, workshops.
Once the practice of artisans working for the royal family, this art form now continues to adorn special clothing for weddings and other occasions, Buddhist ritual objects and it is also made for sale to tourists. You can see men and women working on fabric stretched on low frames, stitching and couching the metallic threads over paper templates.
2. Look at the clothing that monks wear.
It was defined by the Buddha…the number of pieces, type, colour and sizes. No blue is worn, (which as a natural colour would have been made from Indigo), but a range of yellows, oranges and rust-browns originally from natural dyes but now from commercial dyes are used. There are prescribed ways of wearing, folding and storing robes and monks always look neatly and modestly dressed.
Originally followers were told to make their robes from discarded fabrics, patching and piecing them together. Now clothing is purchased from the market and given to monks or women make new sets for monks to gain merit.
Illustration by Issared Wongsing
3. Search for temple banners attached to the top of bamboo poles wafting in the breeze.
They are handmade and placed at the temple by family when someone dies. Cut out metallic paper decorations catch the light and tassels of fabric strips flutter on the sides. Carved wooden fish/birds or planes at the top or bottom are symbolic of the deceased’s journey into the next world.
4. Check out the latest fashion in sinhs( the Lao tubular skirt).
This garment is worn by schoolgirls as their uniform, by women at work and on formal occasions. It is considered proper attire and men think Lao and foreign women look very beautiful in the sinh. There is a wide range of patterns and styles of fabric and each year the preferred styles change as the fashion develops for more or less pattern, cotton or silk, woven or dyed patterns and longer or shorter hemlines. This year there are many women wearing sinhs with metallic woven hem pieces.
5. Support the local economy by buying textiles handmade in Luang Prabang.
Identify products in the night market and shops through signs and stickers produced as an initiative of the Luang Prabang Handicraft Association in conjunction with the Ministry of Science and Technology. Purchases of authentic handmade items support local people and preserve the craft traditions and heritage. You get to take home a little piece of Laos that will hold your memories.