Myanmar travel – discovering a lotus growing for weaving village where the world most special silk is made from the fiber in lotus called lotus silk - Inn Paw Khon. The fame of this silk has reached over Myanmar’s borders. Lotus silk is made only at Inn Paw Khon Village on Inle Lake (Heho, Myanmar). It is not only a pricy product but also the one that attracts tourists at any time of the year.
The authentic serenity of the life in Inn Paw Khon Village.
Inn Paw Khon is a special village with floating houses. Rowing on a boat crossing a small watercourse leading to the village, you can hear the sound of weaving machine from a distance while turning off the boat’s engine. The floating houses here are often in 2 or even 3 floors. Each floor is a separate workshop. The bad impression is on the dirty and muddy watercourse leading to the village. However, when arriving in the village, the locals said that that mud is spent for growing lotus – the wonderful material for their lotus silk.
A lotus swamp in Inn Paw Khon, the lotus is planted on Inle Lake.
It is the fact that many households in the village grow lotus supplying for silk weaving. However, the lotus season lasts only several months a year, so a range of boats carrying lotus from other regions arrive in the village every day.
Silk weaving in Inn Paw Khon has appeared 100 years ago. At first, they wove silk from cotton fiber and then changed to silk and finally lotus fiber. Up to now, Inn Paw Khon is the world unique village with the handicraft of weaving silk from lotus. Each workshop create a job for dozen or even hundreds of people with the works of harvesting lotus, separating fiber, weaving, dyeing and cutting silk, etc.
The fiber silk is made from the lotus spun.
Almost silk products in the village are made from fibers white lotus. Some families weave silk from water lilies, but that silks are not as long-lasting as those made from lotus. The deeper the water is, the more and better the lotus fiber will be. The lotus branches after being harvested will be cut into a small section of around 3 or 4 cm. the workers pull the fibers by hands skillfully, passing a wet board and then tie them together. This process is repeated 3 times so that the fibers are thick enough. Fibers from the later lotus sections shall be connected to the previous one until the lotus branches are out of the fiber. Silk fibers are then put in a large bowl and rolled in a large spindle. This roll of fiber is ready to be dyed, woven and sewing.
Colorful threads to weave silk products in Inn Paw Khon.
All the lotus trunks must be processed within 24 hours since harvested unless they will be dry leading to spoiled silk. A skillful worker can at the same time cut and separate silk of 4 to 5 trunks.
The special thing is that most of the people separating lotus silk are men while those in charge of spinning silk are aged women. The weaving loom is specially designed so that women do not show their foot for anyone in front of them. The locals said that showing the foot facing other people is rude.
A woman does their traditional living with silk weaving.
These aged women are often experts in weaving. They always started up from cotton weaving and then silk weaving and finally lotus silk. The workers can sit with the looms until they are very old. Before they pass away, all the special techniques are passed to other women in the village. That is the special thing about lotus weaving career in this village.
Tourists coming to Inn Paw Khon shall be surprised that without any silkworm or mulberry tree, the locals still weave mulberry silk. The reason is that people in Myanmar follow Buddhism, so they don’t kill animals. People in Inn Paw Khon, thus, import separated silk fiber from China or Thailand and conduct the last steps in the weaving process including weaving and sewing.
Lotus silks are often kept original color without dyeing, including 2 main colors of yellow and brown. Products made of lotus silk are often not smooth and eye-catching as those made from other silks. However, they are light and spongy.
The major products from lotus silk in Inn Paw Khon include scarfs, hair hiring scarfs, longyi - a traditional costume of Myanmar which is similar to a long dress covering ankles, used for both men and women.
Longyi is used both for women and men in Myanmar.
Serving as the complete handicraft products which cost a lot of effort, those made of lotus silk are often 7 or 10 times more expensive than those made of other silk. A small scarf of 100% lotus silk is around 75 to 100 USD. The number of these products is not high, but the major is made from mix silk between lotus silk and normal silk. Many lotus silk scarfs are bought by Myanmar to devote to Buddhists on special occasions.
Weaving workshops in Inn Paw Khon are closed designed which are similar to the small tourist resorts. Tourists coming here shall be invited to visit all the steps in order and also watch for the white lotus fields fluttering under the sunshine as well as admire products made of lotus silk through the introduction of a pretty Myanmar girl in longyi. Some workshops also possess a café or bonsai area for tourists to relax.
Lotus silk has been well preserved in Inn Paw Khon. This unique traditional career contributes to the attraction of the village for tourists who want to come in, to directly see and touch this kind of unique silk in the world.