At Ock Pop Tok, we strive to empower weavers throughout Laos in order to promote economic stability and leadership opportunities for women. One way is by hosting trainings for village weavers at our Living Crafts Centre. Recently, we partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to teach women from Nam Phuong village in the Houaphan province.
Mrs Bang, 33 years old, was one of the visiting weavers. Her 13-year-old daughter (she has two) is learning to weave as well. Weaving is still passed down through generations in Laos — Mrs Bang was 10 years old when her mother started teaching her.
Here are Mrs Bang’s thoughts on her time visiting Ock Pop Tok, in her own words:
How did you get to be on this project?
An NGO came to our village and asked who would like to improve their skills and learn new skills for their handicraft. I said I would, and they chose me and my sister to come along.
What weaving techniques did you know before you came here?
I can weave luang, chok and even set up the patterns, but in our village we only weave with cotton. So it was great to come here and have the opportunity to learn to weave with silk. I also wanted to learn what I can do to improve the quality of my weaving.
How much do you weave at home?
Weaving is more like a part-time occupation for me. I work in the fields and do the housework. But when I have the time I like to weave. Sometimes the other people in the village ask me to make them things.
What did you learn this week?
Dyeing — that was completely new to me. Also to make sinhs and sewing animal toys.
What was your favourite part about being here in Luang Prabang this week?
Weaving. It has been really helpful to have skilled weavers show me what to look out for when I’m sitting at the loom. They’ve shown me how to make the finishing much better so the sinhs look better, and maybe they will be easier to sell.
On the looms here at LCC you have this extra piece of string that makes it so much easier to change pedal. I’ll definitely set up my own loom in the same way.
How will you use what you have learnt?
I will keep trying to improve my weaving and teach the new things I’ve learnt to the other weavers in my village.
Want to learn about the WCS’ efforts in the Houaphan region? Read more about their award winning ‘Night Safari’ project in the Nam Et-Phou Louey region.
Check out previous Faces of OPT features:
Faces of OPT gives you a look behind the scenes of the team at Ock Pop Tok.
Join the conversation: follow #MeetTheWeavers for more on the women and stories related to the beautiful textiles of Ock Pop Tok.