Designer’s. The story behind the textiles.

My healing cloths. The textiles I used are mostly healing cloths used in different healing ceremonies, by both shaman and ordinary people, and use a combination of colors and designs for their powerful healing protection. The complex geometric patterns hide the mythical figures from the evil spirits which are causing harm. Through dance and chant, the shaman calls upon the spirits of the ancestors to release the power of these hidden figures which then chase the bad spirits from the infected body or place.

The shaman, which can be of either gender, follow a complex tradition that includes elements of Buddhism, ancestor worship and animism. Healing rituals are essentially performed to chase out bad spirits and return the ill person’s own spirit back into their body.

The fabrics may be worn by the healer, or the ill person, or even laid in the garden depending on the unique traditions of that village and the type of healing that is being sought. Each ethnic group, sub-group, tribe, valley, and even individual villages often have unique styles of weaving and ritual to express their spiritual lives and needs; even individual weavers have input as to a healing cloths’ design elements and color.

Each textile is hand-woven by local peaceful people (villagers, tribes, ethnic groups, etc.) from communities around the world and differ from tribe to tribe, expressing patterns that can symbolize or be a path leading to the spiritual world, being a way to transmit, protect or capture good or evil energy.

The villagers still weave on wood-frame, hand-built looms, and their artistic expression is still closely married to their traditional motifs and spiritual values. Most still live in traditional small villages and adhere to their animist and Buddhist traditions.

The process behind the weaving of the shaman’s cloths is a complex system build in discontinuous supplementary weft design: in one row of weft (the left to right threads), in addition to the primary weft thread, additional threads are added to create the pattern in which the thread changes each time the color changes. If, in one weft row, the color changes 20 times, the artist manually weaves 20 spools of thread through a hand-picked pattern to create the specific design. Generally, there over 40 rows of weft per inch, and there is no plain, central, solid-colored section. This detailed, time-consuming weaving process takes up to four months; this is time spent in addition to raising the silkworms, spinning the thread, gathering the natural dyes, making the dyes, and dying the threads. Designs and colors used vary by village and region based upon traditions and the weaver’s artistic sense.

Artists are freer to make subtle modifications to design elements or variations to dyes, or they may “borrow” a motif from a neighboring tradition. Nowadays, they still insist on raising their own silk and creating their own 100%-natural dyes and weave on wood-frame, hand-built looms, and their artistic expression is still closely married to their traditional motifs and spiritual values.

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