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The Taileu ethnic groups are known for their exceptional weaving skills and passion for colour. We work with one group based in a rural town six hours north of Luang Prabang We have always loved their soft cotton, array of natural colours, so much so we had to work with them for our modern ombrė designs.
We have been working with Phet and his wife, Bouatong, since we started Ma Te Sai in 2010. Phet has been casting aluminium objects in moulds all his life. He lives in a small village in Xiengkhouang, the most heavily bombed province in Laos. Many people don’t even know that Laos was bombed, before and during the Vietnam War. Phet’s craft evolved from villagers using war scraps to make spoons for their noodle soup.
Meet Phaeng! Phaeng is from a small village of 70 houses, nestled in the bend of the Namkhan River, just outside of Luang Prabang. We have been collaborating with Phaeng for over 4 years. She is one of many in the village who has woven bamboo since childhood.
This year Ma Te Sai has embarked on it's second sewing skills program with village artisans. We have 20 trainees from 6 different ethnic groups and villages in the Luang Namtha area, in remote Northern Laos. Why do we train women to sew? It lets us follow our mission; a mission to work with women in remote areas and create finished products in their villages to earn a better living. But what we actually get in return is so much more, let me tell you how much more.
Buddhism and the crafts go hand-in-hand in Luang Prabang. Just walk down the main street and you will see detailed carvings adorn the temple doors, cut glass murals and gold stencils densely fill columns, walls and ceilings. The Buddhist Heritage Project supports and encourages initiatives of the Buddhist community in the fields of education, preservation of its cultural, religious and historical heritage, and on-site environment management. One of their latest endeavour, is a conversion of disused class rooms in Vat Sop, at end of the main street, to train novices in wood carving. Ma Té Sai will support by selling the outcome of their learnings in our store, and work with them on custom orders. We can thank Covid19 in part for this collaboration as the two friends, and directors of each organisation have been unusually sedentary in Luang Prabang and collaborating in product development.