I was very impressed with the standard of weaving I found when I visited the Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women. I was particularly pleased to find so many sinh being woven with integrated borders (tiin).
Two weavers in particular displayed a high level of mastery by combining different patterning in the body and the border areas.
This woman had two sets of pattern heddles to keep track of: one for the body of the skirt, and another for the border, weaving both in chok (discontinuous supplementary weft):
In every row, she needed to line up the design pre-dyed in the weft threads, and then work the supplementary weft pattern threads.
Speaking to Sengmany, I found that one of the reasons such incredible craftmanship is in danger of dying out is that many of the young women do not want to learn these skills, seeing them as old-fashioned and “villagey.”
They prefer to engage in more modern pursuits, such as piecework at a clothing factory, even if the pay and hours are less favourable and they have less flexibility to study or care for children.
I admire the work she continues to do in training those few who do wish to keep their heritage alive.
The Centre’s website is houeyhongvientiane.com