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In hues of blue, village weaves way to the world

Producing the Leu ethnic group's products using traditional, natural methods is bringing fame to the Natural Weaving Dyeing Group from Hongsa district in Xayaboury province as it attracts an increasingly diverse international market.

Regular customers and new fans alike are learning to love the distinct blues drawn from the leaves of the hom tree used to colour cotton in a process called Nin dyeing.

Ms Saengdao Oudomsinh is happy as her products have been certified and issued with the certificate of ‘One District One Product'.

The products made by the group consist of tablecloths, sashes, bags, tea towels and household decorations.

The vibrant hues are not only attracting customers from Laos but further afield from neighbouring Cambodia and Thailand and as far away as Japan, North America and Europe.

Representative of the group, Ms Saengdao Oudomsinh, spoke to this reporter during the recent Lao-Vietnam Trade Fair in Vientiane where she was at the booth promoting her community's products.

She explained that making even a single completed weaved item required both handicraft skills and traditional processing abilities, as well as patience and attention to detail.

She said there was the increasingly diverse range of customers seeking distinctive styles.

Some come seeking silk products which are of the highest quality, and these are certainly available at excellent value (if not cheap) prices.

Others prefer cotton weaved products which are also made with natural dyes and using traditional skills.

Ms Saengdao highlighted the reasonable price of the product range whose sale creates additional income for the group members.

“Importantly and proudly for us, Leu traditional weaving products have become famous not only in Laos but also increasingly in international markets,” she said.

Ms Saengdao said that she was happy and proud to be joining other women in contributing to preserving the traditional skills and products of the Leu ethnic group while creating extra income for their families.

Primarily employed in agricultural and livestock production, today some 60 out of 160 households in Viengkeo village have joined the Natural Weaving Dyeing Group to produce cotton weaved products as an additional earner in response to high market demand.

Women from the village established the Natural Weaving Dyeing Group in 2010, aimed at promoting Leu traditional weaving by developing products for sale.

The provincial Industry and Commerce Department has supported the group by explaining how to produce good quality products consistently to closely match market demand.

Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) dispatched by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have also helped to advise on variety of issues such as product matching, markets and quality control in order to allow the community to maximise returns on their efforts. After stringently following the guidelines on product standards and quality management the Natural Weaving Dyeing Group received the certificate of ‘One District One Product' (ODOP) earlier this year.

Ms Saengdao has observed that customers who come to buy products from her group do so because they like the unique and handmade feel.

The group uses only traditional natural processing techniques to manage cotton plantings, cloth spinning and cotton dyeing.

These products are creating fame for clothing from the predominately Leu village of Viengkeo in Hongsa district, and growing their customer base.

Furthermore, Viengkeo village was listed as the very first model cultural village in Xayaboury province which has proved of assistance in promoting ODOP products from this group in the years following.

Viengkeo is located about 100 km from the provincial capital, and it takes about two hours by car from Luang Prabang to the community.

Be sure to drop on and check out their wares if you are in the province, or look out for their items on sale in the capital and other major centres at home and abroad.

 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update July 15, 2017)

 

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