Vientiane – yes, again!

If you follow me on social media you might have already seen this amazing jacket, but I thought I’d share it all the same. It can’t hurt to see something this fabulous for a second time! I discovered it at the Lao handicraft fair, which was actually the main reason I went to Vientiane last week.

 I had never been to the fair before so wasn’t sure of the size and allowed three days in Vientiane, just in case I ended up ordering some product prototypes to complement an accessory project I’m working on (all will be revealed very soon!). I didn’t actually do any business at the fair, as it turns out, but it didn’t hurt to see what was on offer. I wanted to buy this jacket but it was only being sold as part of the entire outfit, which was about $600 and included this dyed, appliqued and pom-pom-festooned headscarf – basically a length of material that had been decorated within an inch of its life (aka just the way I like it!!). 

 Yes, maybe I should have bought it after all… especially as I’ve never seen exactly this kind of work before. I didn’t catch the name of the ethnic group that made this so if you know, please tell me!
The fair wasn’t only about textiles, but of course that was what I found most interesting. There were a few demonstrations – this lady was boiling silk cocoons and harvesting the silk threads…

 This one was weaving on what I think is called a backstrap loom (again, correct me if I’m wrong!)…

 And I can’t remember what this lady from the Lenten people was doing but I loved the pink details in her outfit. I haven’t seen anyone in Lenten garments before so it was interesting to see how they dress.

After the fair I caught up with Abby for a drink or two before dinner with her family…

 And managed some shopping and eating at the Talat Sao…

 …but I’ve talked about what’s on offer at the Talat of Temptation several times, including here and here, so if you want to see more photos, wander over to those posts.

I did manage to discover somewhere new in Vientiane thanks to a similarly textile-obsessed lady I met: the National Textile Museum (I think that’s what it was called, anyway). It’s a bit out of the city in a quiet compound which also houses schools for weaving and cooking.

 The owner showed us around – here she is demonstrating some weaving.

 Unfortunately the room with the textiles and associated weaving and dyeing equipment was quite dark and things were under glass, so I didn’t take any shots – but I had slightly more luck with these old photos, which were displayed along the outside wall (not ideal in terms of conservation!).
Here’s a lady hanging out skeins of thread before weaving. This procedure is probably fairly much the same now…  

 And I have seen contemporary photos of brides wearing similar hairstyles to the one here…

 What the women wear in some areas hasn’t changed much from this either…

So many fabulous versions of ethnic groups’ fashions to be found whenever I travel in Vientiane! No doubt I’ll discover more the next time I’m there too.

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