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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:05 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:58 am
Posts: 31
I believe this blanket to be a "pha-hom" woven by the Tai Dum somewhere in northern Laos. I came across it in the main market in Vientiane in 1994. The main suplimentary weft centre measures 152cm x 88cm and comprises two somewhat mismatched panels sewn together ( peculiar design layout with "anomalous" motifs spread amongst the main motif, especially on the right hand panel ) . It is all handspun cotton and indigo dyes, even the backing cloth is handspun cotton but more tightly woven and slightly finer than the indigo supplementary weft . The blanket is obviously well used and pretty old ( guessing early to mid 1900's ? ) but not damaged ( though there is a repair patch on the rear of the backing cloth ). The 2 panels seem to be different dye lots and may even be from 2 different weavers? I know virtually nothing about the piece...indeed only posses 2 tai dum pieces....appreciate any comments / feedback.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
Posts: 393
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
That's a nice example of one of these blankets. We have several online: http://www.tribaltrappings.com/TAL_1.html - scroll down a little bit. I don't know if specific attribution can be made regarding tribal group... they seem to be fairly ubiquitous in northern/northeastern Lao where there are both Tai Dam and Tai Daeng. They also show up across the border in Vietnam. As for age... I tend to be conservative and think that something as utilitarian as this is probably not 100 years old. Lao dealers often tell buyers what they think they want to hear. My understanding of their creation is that they are woven in one long, fairly narrow strip, cut in half to form two panels, which are then sewn together on the lengthwise side- hence the quirky center line where the patterns do not often meet. They do not use backstrap looms, as some assume from the narrow width of the fabric, but use standing frame looms which is typical of the Tai. Hope this helps.

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Susan Stem

http://www.tribaltrappings.com
http://tribaltrappings.blogspot.com/


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:09 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:58 am
Posts: 31
Thanks for the information Susan. I suppose only the weaver could tell us the meanings of each of the 5 different motifs and their placements ( which appear quite random especially on the right-hand panel ). I did notice that one of your similar blankets had attached tabs at one end...which my blanket also has...and wondered if they may sometimes double as door curtains ( I attach a pic of a Lao door curtain that I obtained at the same market ) or wall decorations, or are the blankets actually tied to the bed ?? So these "pha-hom" have no ceremonial purpose ? The weft in my example does seem to be quite loosely woven, and I notice that many others have this character - is this the original character of the weaving, or just differential shrinkage between the backing cotton and the indigo supplementary weft after many washings over the years ? I notice a better quality & tightness of the weaving and the motifs seem much better defined on the finer textured door curtain pictured (with it's multi-coloured silk accents along the bottom) compared to the monochrome utilitarian blanket. Again, thanks for your comments Susan. Regards - Steve.


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