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Tai Daeng (Red Tai)
The Tai Daeng have the reputation of being the best weavers in Laos. According to Patricia Cheesman in her book Lao-Tai Textiles: The Textiles of Xam Nuea and Muang Phuan, “Tai Daeng translates as Red Tai but actually refers to their original homelands in the district of Muang Daeng in Vietnam [and] many arguments have been presented as to origin of the name: the Red River, the red funeral blouses or the red waistbands on the women’s tube skirts…The Tai Daeng are one of the largest Lao-Tai groups in the northeast of Laos, having migrated into Houa Phan province from Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam, in the 19th century and they currently make up about 70% of the population of the Tai groups in Houa Phan province.
The separate ethnic identity of the Tai Daeng and of these upland peoples is readily declared by the people themselves," as reported by Mattiebelle Gittinger in her chapter Textiles for the Living and the Dead - A Lao Case in the book Through the Thread of Time: Southeast Asian Textiles published by The James HW Thompson Foundation Symposium Papers. She goes on to say that "Experts increasingly challenge this proclaimed diversity. The Tai Daeng share many traits with the Tai Dam and it has been suggested that they are one and the same group misnamed by early westerners in the region. The convergence and divergences of the textile forms and customs of these various groups do not suggest a resolution to these questions...[and] even in the face of an expressed diversity, these groups share many textile skills. Each utilizes cotton and silk, employs a simple frame loom equipped with two to four heddles, practices supplementary weft and supplementary warp patterning and may use warp or weft ikat to pattern their textiles."
Many experts though would agree with Mary Connors, who in her book Lao Textiles and Traditions writes that “the Tai Daeng have been acclaimed as master weavers reflecting the wide repertoire of complex weaving and dyeing skills they use to produce their textiles. Their artistic talents are evident in their ability to elaborate common Lao motifs.”
In the photo above one of the Tai Daeng young women at a small gallery in the village of Nongbouatong (in Vientiane) is holding an antique Tai Daeng spirit cloth that they are using for a pattern for a silk scarf series that the Tai Daeng young woman is weaving for us. We have a YouTube video of her weaving here
Tai Daeng villages are actually scattered throughout northern Laos, though the greatest concentration is in Huaphan Province, especially in the northeast above Sam Neua and south of Sam Neua in the Sam Tai region. Our textiles have come from weavers in Sam Tai and Ban Sop Hao and from the Tai Daeng village of Nongbouatong in Vientiane.
The Tai Daeng textiles we currently offer at Laos Essential Artistry are organized into four categories under this section: Tai Daeng Silk Scarves, Tai Daeng Silk Shawls, Tai Daeng Bridal Blankets and Tai Daeng Mosquito Net Borders.
Our Nok Hong Kham Heritage Silk Scarves and Sinh collections are also woven by Tai Daeng weavers and some of our sinhs are woven by Tai Daeng weavers.