These tapestry textiles are almost exclusively woven in Huaphan Province and are often given the name Sam Neua Tapestry Textiles
. Using the adjective “tapestry” can be a little confusing because the textiles don’t use a tapestry weave, but have a “tapestry thickness” that makes them thicker and heavier than textiles used for scarves or ceremonial purposes. Consequently these textiles are almost exclusively used for display and wall hangings.
Our tapestry textiles are great for displaying in houses with high ceilings or running horizontally along hallways. The ones we offer for sale through Laos Essential Artistry
we’ve selected because of the exquisite detail in the myriad motifs woven into the textiles and in the future we hope to photograph sections of the textiles and identify all the motifs the weaver is using to help our customers to better appreciate the artistry of these talented weavers.
As is written the catalog Weaving Tradition: Carol Cassidy and Woven Silks of Laos
in the section Patterns and Motifs
, “The motifs in Lao textiles reflect and record the complex history of the region. Some are drawn from the unique Lao Tai culture and are said to represent characters in traditional Lao epics. Others are derived from outside influences both ancient and recent. The imported motifs have been adopted and adapted by each weaver and translated into designs that express personal experiences, hopes and dreams…Lao Tai weavers use motifs that reflect their spiritual and religious beliefs. Cloths for rites of passage often feature composite animals with ancestor figures riding on them… Influences from the Indian epic, the Ramayana, can be found in the mythology of the Lue and the Tai Khao. Images of the Buddha, frequently combined with the dragon-boat shapes of temple candle holders, are found on shoulder cloths. Such designs are both a form of veneration and a means of embracing protective spirits. Natural surroundings are the source of botanical motifs such as the tree of life and the rice plant…The antique textiles have rich patterns and motifs with spiritual and religious meanings that are interpreted variously by individual weavers. In the tonal language of the Lao, the meanings of words can vary according to their pronunciation and puns abound. This play of language is paralleled in visual puns found in textiles with motifs that have multiple interpretations. The shape of baci offerings mirrors that of the stupha, and the motif is thus both the offering and the structure. The prevalence of nak or naga serpentlike guardian water spirits, reflects their importance as protective spirits. It is frequently a challenge to identify the multiple motifs as they intertwine with and connect to one another across a single textile. Weavers purposely conceal the motifs through the use of closely related colors or contain one motif within others in the belief that hiding the figures gives them greater power.”
And to really appreciate the incredible detail woven into the myriad motifs in these tapestry textiles, the textiles are best appreciated by viewing them close up (as when they are displayed horizontally in a hall or diagonally going up a staircase).