the art of lotus weaving
In central Myanmar there exists an enchanting lake. It is there, on the water of Inle Lake, that the Intha people live as they have for centuries on wooden houses built on stilts.
And it is there that the noble tradition of lotus weaving begins . . .
the origin of lotus weaving
The noble tradition of lotus weaving began over a century ago with one woman’s desire to create a very special gift. Skilled weaver Daw Sa Oo beheld the lotus growing in the waters of Inle Lake and felt moved by the spiritual nature of the lotus flower. She imagined the possibility of creating a yarn made from the filament of the lotus stem.
Eventually she succeeded in making lotus yarn, which she wove into a special set of robes. She presented the pure lotus robes as a sacred offering to a renowned Buddhist abbot that she sought to honor. The Myanmar tradition of presenting hand-woven lotus robes to eminent Buddhist monks continues today.
a meditation in patience
The making of lotus thread is done entirely by hand and requires great patience.
The stem is lightly scored with a sharp knife. As the tip is twisted off, filament is extracted and gently rolled on a wooden slab about two feet long. The process is repeated again. Several strands of fiber are rolled together. The repetitive process becomes an act of meditation.
The strands of lotus are joined manually together and then spun multiple times to increase the strength and to achieve the desired thickness of the yarn. Water is used throughout the process to keep the fiber moist.
The bundles of thread are rinsed in clean water to remove any sediment and then dried in the open air. During the drying process, the thread deepens in hue.
The weaving of lotus scarves and stoles takes place on large wooden handlooms that have been passed down from one generation to the next.
The weaving studios, which are built on stilts on the lake, are illuminated by natural light that filters in through open windows. The air is perfumed with the delicate fragrance of lotus flowers. The only sound is the clacking of the wooden looms.