logo hvt
asean travel and tours. asean travel and tours. asean travel and tours. asean travel and tours. asean travel and tours. asean travel and tours.


Laos Traditional Costume

The geographical distributions of most Lao ethnic groups extend beyond Lao national borders into the surrounding countries of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). Across national borders as well as within nations, a group's costumes may differ. Additionally, costume components from yarn, weaving techniques, and cloth to design, decorative elements, and jewelry manufactured by one group may be used or adopted by another.

The geographical distributions of most Lao ethnic groups extend beyond Lao national borders into the surrounding countries of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). Across national borders as well as within nations, a group's costumes may differ. Additionally, costume components from yarn, weaving techniques, and cloth to design, decorative elements, and jewelry manufactured by one group may be used or adopted by another. This results in the complicated interdependence for which mainland Southeast Asia interetthnic relations are famous.

Tai-Kadai Costume Tai-Kadai Linguistic Groups

Tai-Kadai populations (approximately 66 percent of the population) came into Laos from what is now northern Vietnam, probably originating in southern China, during the last millennium and a half. Tai women brought with them the freestanding frame loom, silkworm cultivation and yarn preparation, and a three-part design for women's sarongs or wrap-around skirts (sin).

The adoption of Theravada Buddhism by many Tai speakers had a major impact on textile production and meanings. Theravada Buddhist monks may neither weave nor cook. Thus women's work includes not only the preparation of cloth for secular and ritual purposes but also the provision of textiles to members outside the family. Tai women provide white cloth to monks, who cut, sew, and dye it for the robes (siiwon) they will wear.

Women's sin display traditional designs abstracted from the natural and mythological worlds; men wear sarongs with blocked or checked patterns. The man's sarong is an elegant garment. Woven in plaid two-ply silk heavier than that used in a woman's skirt, or in cotton, it produces a shimmering color. The man's longer wraparound skirt (yao or hang), with its ends twisted together in front, pulled between the legs, and fixed into the waist band at the small of the back, is the product of many months of labor, with heavy plied silk forming both warp and weft. Utilitarian textiles, such as blankets and shawls, are usually without design, but can be checkered or have subdued patterns.

During the nineteenth century, European travelers recorded that everyday men's clothing was skimpy at best, and women were often bare breasted, wearing drab skirts. The biang(hom), made of two or more two-meter warp lengths sewn along the selvage, which could be draped around the shoulders to keep warm during chilly nights and mornings, was a major garment well known even in early colonial Cambodia and Saigon. In the early nineteenth century, large quantities of English textiles began appearing in Lao markets. Royalty was usually clothed, at least for state occasions, in Chinese imported textiles. (shoulder cloth) was a common woman's garment, draped over the shoulder and often used on ritual occasions. These long, narrow pieces often served to display a woman's aptitude for design as well as her command of weaving technology and dyes. In addition, explorers remarked that the blanket or shawl

Austroasiatic Linguistic Groups

Documentation of Lao Austroasiatic-speaking groups (23 percent of the population) is sparse, particularly regarding costume history. Some have sought better lives by moving to lower elevations and assimilating into other ethnic groups through marriage. In the 1950s and 1960s, Khmu women wore a cotton sarong with simple horizontal stripes or with designs influenced by weavers of the Tai-Lue ethnic group. Their upper garment, a long-sleeved black blouse with a slight flare at the waist, had a center diagonal closure fastened at the side and sometimes decorated with sequins, appliqu?, embroidery, or silver coins.

Austroasiatic speakers in southern Laos include a cluster of ethnic groups that historically had close trade relations. Some of these included the Katu, Nha Heun, Ta-Oi, and Alak. The Alak in the Attoupeu and Saravane provinces were known as fine weavers. In addition to weaving for themselves, they traded long lengths of cloth for making loincloths (katiao), sarongs, and blouses. A particular pattern was woven exclusively for the use of one ethnic group.

Men wore loincloths of varying degrees of elaboration according to their status within their village. Some were heavily beaded, the beads being strung on the weft before weaving. Women wore sarongs with horizontal stripes and sleeveless blouses made of two strips of cloth joined by side and center seams. Silver coins sometimes decorated the bottom edges. Brass and silver necklaces, anklets, and bracelets were also common. Most men wore loincloths until the 1960s. By 1970, only a few village elders wore them, and then only for special ceremonies. Because of heavy conscription during the war, many men switched to wearing army fatigues on an almost regular basis. In the 1990s, there seemed to be a revival of beaded weaving among the Katu in Champassak province, possibly stimulated by tourism.

Hmong-Mien and Sino-Tibetan Linguistic Groups

Hmong women in Laos in traditional costume. (BOHEMIAN NOMAD PICTUREMAKERS/CORBIS)Lao highland groups (11 percent of the population) include the Hmong, Mien, Lahu, Akha, and Lisu, andtheir traditional dress is basically the same as in Thailand. During the war in Indochina in the 1960s and 1970s, the lives of many of these groups were disrupted. Many Hmong and Mien were resettled internally in camps at lower elevations, and others eventually fled the country as refugees to camps in Thailand and then to third countries. Ethnic dress was largely exchanged for lowland sarongs, partly due to the hotter climate and partly to disguise identity in a strange environment where their ethnicity might cause problems. Life in the camps brought more free time, commercial marketing of textiles, and exposure to new designs and styles. Hmong and Mien who fled as refugees to other countries such as the United States and France began ordering traditional clothing from refugee camps in Thailand or from relatives in Laos. These costume components ordered from abroad were executed in much finer stitches and with more elaboration of appliqu?, silver, and other ornamentation than had previously occurred in Laos.

 
Current Trends

Copious quantities of beautiful Tai textiles from Laos appeared in world markets in the 1980s and 1990s. These elegant pieces ably demonstrate Tai women's exemplary command of a technology for producing artistic masterpieces.

The Lao People's Revolutionary Party, which has had control of the country since 1975, imposed a standardized women's costume focused on the sin and biang, displacing more ethnic costume except in tourist contexts. However, commercialization, interest from abroad, and refugees nostalgic for their homeland have brought about a revival of indigenous production. Today, Lao costume provides myriad meanings for a diverse clientele of ethnic groups and outside observers.

 
JTA Tours
Country
City
Style
Length
Country
City
Star
Country
Departure
Arrival
google icon

tours-border


Head office: 4th Floor 18 Yen Ninh Str, Ba Dinh Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam. Tel: +84 90 493 0000. Email: sale@jtatours.com
Copyright © 1996 - 2016 Journey To Asian.
Vietnam Tour | Myanmar Tours | Halong Cruise Tours | Vietnam Flight Ticket | Indochina Tours | Indochina Travel | Cambodia Tours | Cambodia Travel | Laos Tours | Laos Travel| Links To Us


swimwear for women

bao moi

mon an ngon

tin nhanh

asta   iata   pata