Artisan Cotton Scarves Grey Blue


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SKU: 066/01/0815 Categories: ,

Karen Neckwear from Lamphun: Artisan Cotton Scarves Grey Blue from Northern Thailand

When it gets freezing, these Artisan Cotton Scarves Grey Blue are precisely what you need! Thickly textured and luscious, they are guaranteed to keep you warm during the chilliest of nights. Measuring an average 140×40 cm, they’re just the right size to tuck into your overcoat or vest. You won’t find this product anywhere else, as it was custom made for us.

Through mutual friends, we got into contact with Khun Makiah and her family. They belong to the Karen ethnic minority group living in the mountains outside of Lamphun City, Northern Thailand. As subsistence farmers, hunter-gatherers, and hired hands whenever the opportunity arises, they live a peaceful though modest life in their jungle village.

Most families in this area practice some form of home weaving for personal use. Scarves, bags, and clothing are all handwoven on the premises, in between growing vegetables and herding their cattle. Homegrown cotton is used to weave on back strap looms. All fabrics are mainly colored with dyes extracted from their natural surroundings.

Weaving on a backstrap loom is hard work. Sitting for hours on end, with your back as only support strains the muscles in that part of the body. There are only two connective points in this technique. Firstly, the entire structure of warp and weft are hung from a small hook, at about chest height. Secondly, there is a strap wrapped around your back.

The movement of the body allows the weaver to adjust the tension on the threads. In doing so, they can influence the thickness of the weave and its general tensile strength. This type of weaving is still commonly used in small rural communities, as is the case with the ethnic minority groups behind the creation of these scarves.

Dyeing Fabrics with Natural Colors and Pigments

While the Karen people enjoy working with bright colors, in this case, the use of natural pigments has given rise to a more subdued and elegant color pallet.

Different shades of light blue, grey, brown, off-white, and pink are derived from natural substances. For example, the deep brown coloration is made from the nuts, seeds, and bark of a forest palm. Light blues find their way onto the pallet through the processing of indigo plants and butterfly pea flowers. From clay and soil, they get beautiful grey tones. Their vivid pink is perhaps the most special, as its source lies with the excrement of aphids, collected from jungle branches. Although cochineal is harvested from living animals, the dyes they make are a residual product, only taken once the aphids have left the plant. The color on these scarves is derived from Anchan or Butterfly Pea flowers.

Natural pigments are generally softer in hues and are susceptible to natural fading over time. Yet they always retain their intrinsic beauty, aided by the use of organic cotton, ideally suited for absorbing these natural colors.

Sustainable Trade Principles in Action

Through your purchase from reliable and durable sources, you are directly supporting the continuation of their craft. You also help to improve their living conditions and provide funds for the education of Nong Khaotooh, as well as other children like her. Please help us in making a difference. If you’d like to read more about another form of artisan weaving and printing, take a look at this.