Lotus silk weaving in Burma
On a recent research trip Ampersand witnessed the fascinating process of weaving lotus silk by the friendly and talented ladies of Inle Lake, Burma. It is an incredibly intricate craft and a truly beautiful sight which evokes childhood fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty's spindle and yarn...
We found this beautifully written piece by Ma Thanegi which explains the history of lotus weaving in Burma...
By Ma Thanegi
Imagine the fairy tales lost in your childhood of lovely princesses on high towers weaving magical cloths; ethereal creatures capturing moonbeams to sew a cloak. All this comes to mind watching a young girl pull from the lotus stems soft fibers as fragile as a spider’s silk. These she will spin together to form a stronger thread, adding upon it length as the coils rise higher. She will need 120,000 long stems of the dark pink lotus to gather enough yarn to weave her gift: a set of robes for her revered Abbot who resided at the Golden Peacock Feather Monastery.
This is no fairy tale. In a remote village called East Kyain Khan on the shores of Inle Lake ninety years ago, a lay devoted to her revered Abbot had wanted to present him a set of robes woven from the most unique and pure materials. Plucking the large-petal lotus blossoms from the lake to offer at shrines, she noticed some filaments trailing from the ends of the cut stems. After many exhausting experiments, she managed to spin this web-like silk into longer and thicker threads. From that point on, it was easy, for weaving is a national industry that all country girls learn. She and her close friends painstakingly gathered enough stems and wove a splendid robe … Read more here