Handmade

One thing that does not change is the magic the old culture including the way of living of Lao people is the thing that the world tourists wish to see...

TIP KAO

It can be observed that only Lao people weave the basket of sticky rice.The basket is to Lao in the world. Sticky rice is the main food for Lao.The ware that they used to contain their rice after steaming is called Tipkao, Elpkao or Kongkao. Lao man have to be skillful in farming, make bamboo strips, fishing net and other works, while the women should be skillful in cotton spinning, textile weaving, silkworm raising, cooking and poultry-raising.

Bamboo strips are made from the bamboo trees, namely : Maibong, Mailai, Maisand, Maihai and Maithae. The strips made by the above bamboo or wood are very durable, easy to weave.Other types of wood are broken easily and not durable. After the bamboo is selected,it is warmed a few minutes on the fire and then chopped into very thin strips.

After thet dry them under the sun.If we need to colour them, we should dye them, fry under the sun, then weave the basket as designed. For weaving, first, we should design a pattern, then weave according to the structure and pattern.The amount of the strips prepares are related to the size of the basket of rice. The short one can be used for the small one and the long one used for the big one.The edge of the strip should leave in the inner part in order to hide the joint. It requires a high skill level to avoid seeing the joint in the basket. If the strips are not soft enough, we have to water them a little.If the strips are too dry, it will be broken easily.


ROCKET
After 10 years, I had an opportunity to meet with rocket maker again.The changes reminded me to think to the past time.At that time Vankhamdara Pathammavong made a rocket inthe small and quiet house which was surrounded by good smell of new paddy and voice of children and ducks.His two sons helps him make the explosive powders.

Today the rocket maker moved in to the city at Sisawat village, Chanthabouli district, capital of Vientiene.There is a workshop with more than 20 assistants. The small farm house is only the place for making the explosive powder. The rocket maker is still strong and healthy. His neck and arms are decorated with gold. His waist busy with mobile phone. There are a scars in his arms and hands. He lived in the big house with the satellite dish. He has changed a lot, but the thing no change is that the happy eyes. So he could turn himself into big Rocket business. In a year there are many rocket from different villages.

The other business of Vankhamdara is the work relating to the funeral arrangement. For the funeral ceremony, he provided the truck, coffin, fireworks and etc. The firework is the product from the explosive powder. The fire flower included the rocket flower, rocket color, rocket wares. The experience in rocket for funeral ceremony Vankhamdara has learnt from Chiangmai Thailand. He was there for visiting his children who studied there. He got the experience in exchange with his rocket making techniques.

Vankhamdara told about his life relating to the rocket that his house was located neat Watcham temple Chanthabouli district Vientiane Municipality. There is a beautiful beach for the National rocket festival.Since he was a boy, he has known about the explosive making, saw the rocket decoration, rocket parade and rocket launching. That event has tied in Vankhamdara mind. Finally, he got to know on how to make the small rocket and since that time, he participated in different rocket festival.

When he was asked who your teacher was, Vankhamdara told me that Monk Boua, the abbot of Nong Saphangmeuk temple, who got experience on how to produce the big rocket for Bane Saphangmeuk people, a village located to Dong Dok Institute of pedagogy. At his free time.He went to abserve on how to make the big rockets by Mink Boua. Years by years, Vankhamdara participated in the rocket festival. When he realized that he paid respectation and asked for being his student. However, rockets making has been improved. In the past time, rocket powder is compacted by hands, but today they used the jack. The rocket tube was made by bamboo but now is used by PVC pipe. Everything is for fun.


LAO SILVER HANDICRAFT
Souvenirs often purchased by tourist once in Laos are handicrafts made from silver. A unique silver handicraft of LuangPhrabang, world heritage city, is from the craftsmanship of Mr. Thit Pheng. He sells handmade souvenirs from his own home situated in the southern part of Bane Vat That, not very far from Phousi and the Museum. Just ask any villager along the streets or any taxi driver and you'll find out how easily it is to get there. There are many variety of products made from his skilled craftsmanship arranging from the smallest to the biggest items such as : rings, bracelets, bowls and trays used in religious ceremonies.

Most of the engraved carvings are pictures of religion, Naga and 12 different kinds of animals. It is not an easy task to finish such an item, it takes time, precision and concentration, before all the silver must be flattened out then engraved. The first step in producing this type of handicraft is to flatten out this silver. The hands along with skilled experience are used o feel for the appropriate thickness in the silver sheet. And using only the sight of the eyes to decide that the beauty in each item has been achieved. this is what makes his handicrafts become not only just another product but also an art of the hands with unique qualities inevitable for anyone to match. Many people both local and foreign are interested in distributing his products, but his souvenirs are very limited. Therefore anyone wanting to be an owner of his handicrafts must purchase it at the only shop found nowhere else but in LuangPhrabang.

" I use my hands.., I enjoy making religious bowls more than anyone, because it symbolizes life and Lao culture. We use it to pour drinking water, to serve water to guests, and many religious ceremonies", says Mr. Thit Pheng. 

In the past he has been a goldsmith for the Royal Kingdom of LuangPhrabang. Now at the age of 72, he still uses his hands to feel for the smoothness and thickness needed in each sheet of silver before being engraved and carved. this profession is being handed down to the next generation through his son, Thongsavat Manipone, in the exception that his children have all gone there separate ways in careers. He uses his house as a place for production, selling and as a target for teaching his children and nephews without knowing or thinking that they will become the goldsmith of art in the future. Upon the next purchase of souvenir made from silver at the shop of Mr. Thit Pheng, not only will you be purchasing a beautiful product made from 100% silver created with skilled craftsmanship but you will also be promoting Lao arts.

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  Information provided by Laos National Tourism Authority.

 

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