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Silver Palaung weaver in Thailand

In February 1998 Kathleen Forance Johnson visited the area encompassed by the old Lan Na kingdom centered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and extending into Northern Laos to its ancient capitol in Luang Prabang. Kathleen referred to the use of back strap looms in Thailand as follows:

"Back strap looms are in use in some of he Thai hill tribe villages we visited. In this settlement there were only a few older women at home weaving simple traditional cloths for domestic use and a couple of younger women weaving souvenir type bags and belts for sale to tourists. They use a type of backstrap loom with their warp tied to a railing on the "front porch" of their houses which are often built on stilts. The colorfully banded tube skirt is a basic item of clothing for the women of these communities. In some other places we saw a few women wearing inexpensive sarong prints, but they still seem to be in a minority."

to 15K Jpeg Back strap loom in use, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Silver Palaung village. The Silver Palaung woman is weaving a length of fabric for the traditional tube skirt.

Back strap loom in use, Chiang Mai, Thailand, hill tribe village


click on image for enlargement
to 18K Jpeg Open warp, with beater and heddle stick, Silver Palaung backstap loom
open warp, with beater and heddle stick, backstrap loom
Looking at the photos it is clear that Kathleen was visiting a Silver Palaung village and the weaver was weaving fabric for a traditional striped Silver Palaung tube skirt. The village was possibly one in which Michael C Howard and Wattana Wattanapun carried out fieldwork in 1997/98. They were researching the Silver Palaung who had fled from Burma in the 1980s to escape the fighting between communist insurgents and Burmese army troops and now live in a handful of villages north of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. This research forms the major part of their 2001 book “The Palaung in Northern Thailand
click here for the complete story of Kathleen's trip
go to description of Silver Palaung clothing
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this page last updated 2 January, 2004