Sunday, May 26, 2013

Katu backstrap

It's amazing to be surrounded by weavers, and I was especially happy to find that there is backstrap weaving going on here. Keo, shown here, and her sister Mone have come from the south of Laos to work at Ock Pop Tok
I had seen the Katu style of textile before, because the traditional men's garments have weft twining, and they come up in image searches of 'weft twining.' Three of these loincloths are hanging in my room - I coincidentally got the room decorated in the Katu style.
There is another beautiful weaving, which has been used to cover a chair. (Photographed outside my room because the room is dark.)
Needless to say, I've been observing Keo's weaving as much as I can. Her foot-tensioned loom is warped with four metres of cotton which will be woven in a tubular manner, rotating around the loom beams. There are three shed sticks, and two string heddles. The extra sheds control the intricate warp float designs within the stripes (as seen in the chair details and the detail in the last post.) The string heddle is a simple, self-adjusting heddle wound around the warps, with no knots or other tricks. There is a safety line running through in case the rod slides out, because it's not even secured tightly at the ends. Notice there are no yarns holding her other shed sticks in place, and no second cross. She does not get up from weaving without carefully rolling the warp up, from the feet toward her.
Her feet flex and extend as she changes sheds, and also while she works the beads into place.
The beads are strung onto the weft thread, and counted out before she passes the shuttle.
She makes use of a finished piece (with weft twining, see?) to measure the size and number of beads needed for her flower motif.
The traditional weavings vary in design, color, and density of beading. The beaded part takes a lot more time, since they have to be counted, and worked into place one by one. The piece Keo is working on now is an Ock Pop Tok design, which will actually be split into two along the middle of the warp when it's finished, and used on two different skirts. It's more efficient to weave the two parts as one.
More pieces from the showroom at Ock Pop Tok, and one of the women working here has a very beautiful bag that is all patterned stripes and no beading, which I need to photograph. I have also uploaded a short video showing Keo weaving.

A further coincidence is that the ouerjan design on my Bedu bag, which I'm carrying here, reminded Mone of Katu designs - from a distance she thought there were beads in it! This hadn't even occurred to  me, but the effect is very similar.
Eventually I showed Keo photos of Bedouin weaving in Qatar. I had never dreamed, when I searched 'weft twining' months ago and came up with Katu images, that I'd be sitting with a Katu weaver and showing her imaged of Bedouin weft twining and saying, "See? Same as Katu."
I am living a textile fanatic's fantasy, and every day is full of awe and delight.

The rainy season began in earnest the same day - rain is audible in the background of part of the video.


Gail Roach said...

I really enjoyed the video - thank you.

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth said...

Excellent video, thank you.