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Local woman creates value through weaving

On the outskirts of the capital, a woman is working consistently to help her family have a better living standard thanks to the weaving skills she inherited from her parents since her own childhood.

“I started weaving when I was 8 years old by learning from my parents, now I'm 33 years old. It's more than 20 years I work on this every day. I can make the Sinh (Lao skirt) design pattern myself. I cannot count how many design patterns I have made, but there are many through more than two decades I've worked on,” local Sinh producer Mrs Kimphone Xaykhamxing said.

“I make the design patterns by observing the things in our daily life such as flowers, animals, letters and others.”

Mrs Kimphone Xaykhamxing spoke to media while she was busy weaving the bottom end of a Lao skirt. She is a local Sinh producer in Ban Na Por, Sangthong district, Vientiane Capital. The village is about 20km from Sangthong centre. She is one of the most skilled Sinh producers in her village.

Her son helps her with weaving work.

“I can also do patterns designed by clients. They just give me the design they want and I can make it for them based on their designs,” she added.

“It is not hard to learn weaving, however, it is hard to create design patterns. Many local people can do weaving but not many can make the patterns.”

The village recently received funding from the Capacity Building for Gender Development under Capacity Development for Citizen Lead Inclusive Development (CD-CID). The three year project from 2015-2017 is funded by the EC and Oxfam.

The project is running in two villages in Sangthong district, with various activities based on the potential of the areas chosen by villagers. The project also runs through many different partners in other provinces with various activities and small sub-projects based on their potentials. The other provinces are Bokeo, Khammuan, Savannakhet and Champassack provinces.

Because of her outstanding skill, Mrs Kimphone was selected to be the head of the weaving group in her village. “In our group, there are six members which have six looms, it just started, and each member received 2.5 million kip with no interest loan from the project fund.”

“I think the project is good. It can help us, especially local women to have extra income from our skills and can contribute to our family.”

Mrs Ki mphone said she also has nine looms of her own for weaving and has nine people weaving for her. She collects products from them and sells them at the market in Vientiane.

“I plan to increase to have 40 to 50 looms under me. To expand, it needs more funds, and also explore a new market.”

“We can do as much as possible if we have a market. The villagers here are also interested in learning from me as they see that I can earn some income. I can teach them. It only takes three days to learn and then they can do it.”

Mrs Kimphone said she realised it was important for local women to have some skills and contribute to their family's income, as it can be hard for poor families to support themselves when only the husband is earning money.

“When we have work and earn extra income, it also creates value for us in our family and it makes better living for the family,” she said.

Mrs Kimphone said she could not earn much but it was enough to help her family and support her children to study.

“I don't have a high education, but I have skills for weaving, so I can earn extra income from this. It's also good for me as I work at home and I can take care of my children.”

Mrs Kimphone also explained that some types of Sinh has a higher price because of the high cost of materials like silk, and some patterns are complicated and take more time to do.

She said the Sinh price is down during the Buddhist Lent as there are less activities, however after the price will improve.

Lao skirt producing can be seen in nearly every village in Laos as Sinh is worn daily by Lao women. Every woman has at least 10 Sinh for daily wear and occasional wear. The price varies from less than 100,000 kip to more than many million kip.

Producing Sinh is still connected with Lao culture and lifestyle. However, there are some imported machinery made Sinh sold in Lao markets for a low price, and it impact local handmade producers.

“I am impacted from fake, cheap Sinh . We spend a lot of time making the original Sinh , but the fake one sells very cheap. It makes it hard for us to sell and sometimes I have to bring my Sinh back home as it did not.”

“I feel discouraged sometimes,” sadly said Mrs Kimphone.

“I would like to ask Lao people to wear Sinh made by Lao people because Sinh is part of Lao culture and a Lao symbol- it should be produced by Lao people.”

“The cheap machinery-made Sinh is also not good quality, you can only wear one or two times. The original Lao handmade Sinh is charming and can keep you comfortable for much longer,” she added.


By Keoxomphou Sakdavong
(Latest Update August 12 , 2017 )

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