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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:07 pm 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Greetings All-
I thought I'd share some photos from a recent visit to some Karen tribal villages on Doi Inthanon, here in northern Thailand. The Karen are probably the most populous of the hilltribes in Thailand and are mostly located along or near the western border, as well as in Burma, from whence they came. The groups in these particular villages have been in Thailand for 50-60 years and are prospering now by growing organic coffee, as well as other interesting crops which we saw growing in the village: sesame, huge cucumbers, passion fruit and one version of the 'Job's Tears' which are used to decorate their clothing (see photo below). (These look like berries, but do not dry like berries, and quickly become hard while keeping their shape.)

Unfortunately, that day most of the village was away working in the fields and nobody in the village was weaving, but one lady very kindly showed us an ingenious, take-apart thread winder (for want of a better term) made of sticks and bamboo (photo below). Her backstrap loom pieces were stored upright in a large basket. Later we did find a lady weaving on a typical backstrap loom, outside of the village.

Another lady from whom I was able to purchase some tunics is shown wearing the style of tunic from this village, plus tubeskirt. As you can see, they have gone to bright, non-natural colors using commercially-available thread, but the weaving was still very well done and most of the women were wearing traditional clothing, unlike most of the men (and boys).


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Mail-Karen-decorative-berri.jpg
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Mail--Karen-Lady-Weaver2b.jpg
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Mai-Karen-Forum-loom-parts.jpg
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Mail-Karen-Weaver1.jpg
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Mail-Karen-Lady-Weaver1+gra.jpg
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:49 am 
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Dear Susan,

Your `take/apart thread winder´is very interesting.

I notice that the part where you hang the thread curves upward. I have seen almost the same thing in the Batak area of Sumatra, but the part where you hang the thread curves downward. In the attached photograph you see the same `take apart` feature.

Your photograph throws light on another Batak variant that I had seen in the Tropenmuseum. I had tried to make it work with the y-shaped part hanging downward, but it wouldn´t work. Only now do I realize that it would have worked if that section had been sticking upward.

It is because you have photographed it in the hands of the user that this mystery has been solved. Thank you!

Sandra


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1_15_13_999w.jpg
1_15_13_999w.jpg [ 67.57 KiB | Viewed 10451 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:27 pm 
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Sandra-
I'm so glad that you found the photo helpful! I was taken with the simplicity of the device and the use of simple branches, plus ubiquitous bamboo, to create a useful tool that broke down into smaller, compact parts. I have another photo showing her putting it together.

The one you show is also very interesting- the bentwood pieces almost reminiscent of old hat stands, tho upside down. Leave it to the Batak to make something functional and elegant!


Attachments:
Mail-Karen-Lady-Weaver2a.jpg
Mail-Karen-Lady-Weaver2a.jpg [ 58.22 KiB | Viewed 10435 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 4:59 pm 
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Susan,

The Batak put theirs together in exactly the same way. And it turns on a piece of bamboo capping a vertical peg.

This is just one "style" of thread winder. There are four or five other completely different styles in the Batak region. I wonder what the distribution of this one is. I wouldn't be surprised if the one you found is "related" to the one I found -- at the northern tip of Lake Toba, by the way. It would be good to map the incidence of such things on a map of Southeast Asia.

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 Post subject: Among the Hmong
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:27 am 
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Sandra, and all-
Here's another ingenious tribal weaving tool to ponder. It's a combination shuttle and sword/beater used by the Hmong here in northern Thailand. Probably it is also used in SW China by the Hmong there, who are known as Miao. Perhaps Pamela may even have a photo of one in use in China...? I am also showing their ingenious folding backstrap/frame loom (for want of a better term) on which they weave hemp cloth. Perchance do any of these show up in Indonesia too?

FYI- the little old Hmong grandma shown in the photos gives demonstrations of the process of making hemp cloth and batik in a small museum she has created in the village of Baan Pha Nok Kok, in the hills outside of Chiang Mai. If you're in the area, it's well worth finding and visiting.


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Mail--Hmong-Weaving-tool-sh.jpg
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Mail-Hmong-loom-folded.jpg
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Mail-Hmong-loom--unfolding.jpg
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Mail-Hmong grandma-weaving hempcloth-2.jpg
Mail-Hmong grandma-weaving hempcloth-2.jpg [ 68.44 KiB | Viewed 10300 times ]

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:11 pm 
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Dear Susan, and all,

What an extraordinary tool you have shown us. Thank you! I have never seen a combination of sword and shuttle before. I have been flipping through Studies in Primitive Looms by H. Ling Roth, and Non-European Looms by R. A. Innes, but I see nothing like it. (I remember how struck I once was by the combination of shed stick and warp spacer that the Ainu use, but what you have shown us a brand new combination -- at least to me. I am curious whether others have ever run across this combination.)

Thank you for including a picture of the loom. The warp is quite narrow, it seems. I try to imagine how your sword-shuttle combo is used. I see that cunning little hole in the bottom of the sword through which the weft is threaded. I imagine the combo-tool being pushed through the shed, and enough weft being pulled off the spool that a loop of weft is formed to dangle at the selvedge edge, and then the combo-tool being moved back into the shed to serve as a beater. Then a new shed being made, the beater used, the combo-tool shot through so far that a loop is left at the other selvedge edge, the beater used, a new shed, etc. etc. Do I have it right?

Advantage: the weaver is seated relatively high up on a chair (compared to sitting on the ground when using a backstrap loom), but because her shuttle is integrated with the beater she does not risk it dropping on the ground when she makes a shot, with all the attendant fuss and effort of having to get off the chair to pick it up.

Disadvantage: the beater is a relatively heavy instrument, heavier than a shuttle, and by moving it in and out of the loom constantly, she has a heavier weaving task.

I'd love your sense of how functional this ingenious combo-tool is.

Sandra


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:33 pm 
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For more photos and info on the white Hmong village, Ban Pha-nok-kok and this one woman Hmong multi-textile technique demonstrator see Monique Derwig's 'Treasure hunt' in Thailand, particularly http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Monique/ ... d.htm#hemp Monique was able to visit thanks to Susan Stem and a great guide that Susan knows in Chiang Mai.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:40 pm 
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Pamela- Such a good nose you have for details! Yes, Grandma Raza is the one Monique visited too, as well as being included in the book Hilltribe Textiles. She should be considered a National Treasure!

Sandra- I'm tickled that you have not seen one of these neat tools either, but understand fully how it's used. I agree that it could be heavy to handle, but having not handled it to see, am wondering if perhaps it's made out of a lightweight wood...? There are some strong, but lightweight woods here. It also does serve as a beater, as she's doing in the photo below. I don't think I got any of her taking it out of the shed, so cannot verify photographically exactly how it's used. I first noticed it when our textile group was visiting and I asked Patricia Cheesman if she knew of any other groups who used a combination tool like this, and she said that she did not.


Attachments:
Mail-Hmong weaver-3.jpg
Mail-Hmong weaver-3.jpg [ 65.86 KiB | Viewed 10248 times ]

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:35 pm 
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The plot thickens.

Hmmm. A sword that might be made of strong but lightweight wood. Would the light weight be advantageous when beating in the weft? A nice new riddle....

And then there is the rest of this mysterious loom!
Presumably the heddling system is operated by the weaver's foot. Is there a rod or bar of darker wood behind it? What is its function?
And my goodness, what a huge shed stick! Roll is the better word! So far away from the weaver that she can't even touch it. This is strange to me, having learned my backstrap weaving in a world where the weaver moves the shed stick back and forth. How does this roll work?
And that reed or warp spacer, also so far away from the weaver, dangling in the warp, the way it dangles indicating which shed is being made. Is it 'just' a warp spacer?

I hope that someone knows the solutions to all of these riddles???? I get a sense that this loom deserves alot of attention.

Thank you again for introducing us to this fascinating specimen, Susan.

Sandra


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:19 am 
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Sandra-
The loom is very curious... I don't understand how it really works either, but yes, the cloth is very narrow- barely a foot wide. This is the hemp band that forms the body of their full, pleated skirts- or at least did form the body, as now they have substituted woven, printed cotton from China for the handmade/woven/batiked hemp. What I just noticed on the last photo is that this tool fits the loom so perfectly: the shuttle part is the same width as the cloth/warps and the 'handles' stick out just right so the weaver can grab them and use it as a beater, with the weight of the shuttle distributed evenly along the weft. I don't know if that is important to the function or merely a coincidence, but would presume the former. I found some photos of the shuttle/sword/beater being used by the Miao in Deryn O'Connor's lovely book Miao Costumes From Guizhou Province in Southwest China. On p.75 she shows four frame looms, some with backstraps (I cannot tell if they all have them or not), and two with the shuttle/sword (shown below). I also have a Chinese book on blankets of the Tujia, Miao, Dong, and Yao and it shows drawings of these tools, but I cannot read the Chinese to see which group(s) uses them. The last photo is of a loom with a similar drum-like apparatus, tho it appears to be used differently. Perhaps some of our Chinese-reading members could translate the captions so we can know if anyone other than the Miao are using these.


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Mail--Miao-looms-from-O.jpg
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Mail-Chinese-loom-drawings1.jpg
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Mail-Chinese-loom-drawings2.jpg
Mail-Chinese-loom-drawings2.jpg [ 59.07 KiB | Viewed 10203 times ]

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 Post subject: all wound up
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 3:39 pm 
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...back to thread winders...
We recently took a driving trip north and these darned devices kept appearing! The first one was being used by a Karen man from Burma who had the job of winding thread from skeins into balls so it would be more manageable at the shop where he worked. He remembered a device his grandmother used to use and recreated it for this task. It's interesting that string is used in tension to hold the threads. This is also the case for another model that is positioned sideways (photo 2). This photo and those following were taken at the National Museum in Chiang Saen, on the Mekhong River. The spinning wheel is rather curious with the zigzag formation on the wheel. I find these devices rather sculptural, which is probably part of the attraction.


Attachments:
Mail-Thread Winder1-1.jpg
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Mail-Thread Winder3-1.jpg
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Mail-Thread Winder2-1.jpg
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Mail-Spinning wheel-1.jpg
Mail-Spinning wheel-1.jpg [ 23.9 KiB | Viewed 9959 times ]

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 Post subject: thread winders
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 4:16 am 
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Yes, I find their sculptural quality quite compelling. They are so simple and so ingenious. Have you come across any that are elaborately carved?

The use of tensioned string in winder 1 and 2 to support the yarn makes them seem rather make-shift. I am used to wood or wire being used. But why not thread? I am assuming it is a rather strong thread.

Winders 1 and 2 (number 2 appearing third) are new to me. Winder 3 is familiar to me from Indonesia, although the use of tensioned thread is not.

Have you included the spinningwheel because it is used as a means to wind (as well as spin) thread?

Are these variations regional or village-related, or do they correlate with ethnic groups?

Sandra


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:09 am 
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Good questions Sandra! There are carved thread winders, but I think they are from Isaan (NE Thailand) and Cambodia. I've included one of the most elaborate examples I've ever seen- it is from the very good, but out of print book Thai Textiles; Threads of a Cultural Heritage- I've never seen one quite like this in reality. This style is really a form of folk art. I suspect that wood, especially carved, is used in wealthier areas, whereas the bamboo and stick varieties would be in rural villages and hilltribe areas. I have found that many of the weaving related implements, as well as the looms, from Cambodia are beautifully carved and sometimes even lacquered. Below I have included a photo from Ban Rai Pai Ngam, the weaving cooperative south of Chiang Mai, showing some old Lan Na looms with carved decoration.

As for attribution to ethnic group, I don't really know how that works out. In the museum, either there were no labels, or they were in Thai. My personal recent exposure has only been with the Karen- perhaps if one explored a Tai Lue area, or some Akha villages, one might find different examples, or they might be very similar. I will certainly be on the lookout now! I'll also check out our Tribal Museum and see if there are any examples or photos; it includes the hilltribes Hmong, Yao, Karen, Lisu, Akha and Lahu.

I included the spinning wheel because it was part of the exhibit and rather interesting in design, plus similar in usage.


Attachments:
Mail-Elaborate-Thread-Winde.jpg
Mail-Elaborate-Thread-Winde.jpg [ 51.05 KiB | Viewed 9885 times ]
Mail-Ban Rai Pai Ngam looms6.jpg
Mail-Ban Rai Pai Ngam looms6.jpg [ 43.96 KiB | Viewed 9885 times ]

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 5:32 pm 
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I came across a pretty standard thread winder when I was looking for wax resist coverlets in a Bailing Miao/Shui village from 2001 in Ma Guang village, Ji Chang township, Duyun city, Guizhou province, SW China. I am posting a photo of a Shui woman bending over the winder which has thread in it and an empty one is shown behind. It is also a Shui woman at the loom. I think this is under a step ladder going up into the roof. I don't have any other photos which show this more clearly. She was weaving some of the pineapple weave fabric that I like so much. There were Shui and Bailing Maio in and out of the house and living together in the same village. As Andrew Dudley has explained to us they are ethnically very close.


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File comment: Shui woman attending a thread winder Ma Guang village, Ji Chang township, Duyun city, Guizhou province, SW China in November 2001.
0111E06w.jpg
0111E06w.jpg [ 57.29 KiB | Viewed 9801 times ]
File comment: Shui woman at her loom in Ma Guang village, Ji Chang township, Duyun city, Guizhou province, SW China in November 2001.
0111E07w.jpg
0111E07w.jpg [ 71.24 KiB | Viewed 9801 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:26 pm 
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I was interested to find, when looking for something else, a photo of, what I would term, an upright thread winder in use by the Li speaking the Meifu dialect in Hainan Island as shown in section X of 'Traditional Culture of the Li Ethnic Group'. I post the photo here - see behind the 'looms' for tying ikat. Similar to the Karen thread winder Susan showed the thread is tensioned by thread/cord/string. The Li are thought to be descended from similar roots to the Tai.

This thread-winder 'thingy' could become compulsive.........!


Attachments:
File comment: as shown on the sixth page of the Weaving part of Section X of 'Traditional Culture of the Li Ethnic Group'
Meifu_Li_ikat_threadwinding.jpg
Meifu_Li_ikat_threadwinding.jpg [ 59.78 KiB | Viewed 9766 times ]

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