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"Weaving, Cooking, Smiling: The History and Development of Weaving in Lao Culture"
 Kongthong Nanthavongdouangsy ,
Master Weaver and Gallery Owner, Vientiane, Laos

The Lao people have been weavers for many centuries.  Their weaving traditions include many historical and meaningful design motifs which refer to nature, and religious and epic legends and stories. The Lao weave on a frame loom.  Hmong, Akha and Khmu tribal people living in Laos use a variety of back-strap type looms. The Lao use both silk and cotton yarns to weave their intricate designs while the Hmong and other minorities use both cotton and hemp. By the middle of the 20th century, some of the Lao weaving traditions began to disappear. However, several enterprising women, including Kongthong Nanthavongdouangsy of Vientiane and her family, have worked on reviving these skills and traditions, teaching them to otherwise unemployed women, and now produce beautiful new textiles.  Ms. Nanthavongdouangsy’s talk will cover both the traditional textiles of Laos and their techniques and motifs, as well as how she and her family initiated and are carrying on the contemporary production.

Kongthong Nanthavongdouangsy is a Master Weaver of Laos and ASEAN countries. She received a UNESCO Award for her Traditional Textile work in 1992, and a Seal of Excellence for Modern textiles from UNESCO –APHADA in 2006. Ms. Nanthavongdouangsy has been working as consultant on weaving Handicrafts for different International organizations since 1990, both in Laos and overseas. She is one of the founders of the Lao Handicraft Association, and owns two handicraft companies: Phaeng Mai Gallery, a manufacturer of silk production and weaving school, and Phakaned Handicraft, a sericulture company producing silk and cotton yarns and by-products, weaving equipment and other related services.


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