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Post Info TOPIC: Speech by Kommaly Chanthavong, in the Tapestry 2008

Speech by Kommaly Chanthavong, in the Tapestry 2008

Kommaly Chanthavong and guests (including Khenthong Nuanthasing, Ambassador,Embassy of the Lao P.D.R.) at the reception, School of Art Gallery

Kommaly Chanthavong, Director Lao Sericulture Company trading as Mulberries and Phontong Camacraft Handicrafts Cooperative
Tapestry 2008 Reception, Australian National University, School of Art, Canberra, Australia.

Sabaidee… greetings
Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen.

Thank you for coming this evening.

Weaving is an integral part of Lao culture. It is an honour for me to be here tonight as a sister of Lao women weavers.

I was born in Hua Phan, Sam Neu. A province in Laos known for the traditional craft of raising silk worms, reeling silk and cotton fibres, creating natural dyes and for its many complex weaving techniques.

I started weaving when I was five years old. In Laos, the art and skill of weaving has been passed on from generation to generation, from mother to daughter. It’s a skill we learn from our family. The patterns and motifs are woven on wooden floor looms in humble surroundings. They signify who we are, our dreams, our hopes and the natural world around us.

Tonight, I see exquisite Lao tapestry weavings from my sister weavers hanging in the Gallery. The weavings represent the country side of our people – the flowing rivers and streams, the lightening and storms of the mountain skies of Laos.

In 1975, after the civil war, I saw the women from my home town in Vientiane, displaced by war and desperately poor. I gathered 10 women weavers and began the Phontong weaving group. We wove textile to sell in the Morning Market and for the government uniforms.

In 1990 the Phontong Handicraft Cooperative joined with CamaCraft. We worked with Hmong people in re-crafting traditional Hmong embroidery, appliqué and batik techniques to create income generating activities to improve the standard of living.

My desire was to go back to my home land of northern Laos and help my people. My vision was a silk farm, to produce our own traditional silk fibres. In 1993 after two year study and research the Lao Government granted me 40 hectares of land in Xieng Khoung province to start a model farm for sericulture – a project to help rebuild the economy of village communities using our Lao traditional practice of raising silk worms and producing silk fibre.

Today the Lao Sericulture Company’s Mulberries label and Phontong/Camacrafts support over 200 villages involving over 3,000 people. We train young people in silk farming, creating natural dyes and weaving. Our interdependent farming system ensures that all by-products are used nothing is wasted in the production of organic silk fibres. We are accredited to the International Fair Trade Association.

The Lao tapestry – weaving dreams and aspiration exhibition is an important event. It signifies the survival of an artistry central to the people of Lao. Valerie Kirk has been an instrument, not only in contributing to preserving our weaving traditions but she has openned the way to new creativity, inspiration, hopes and dreams for Lao women. She has gathered these exquisite art works of Lao women weavers. Together, these woven landscapes unite us with women weavers in Australia and other countries. Thank you Valerie. Thank you Gordon Bull, for inviting me and my daughter Boby to the Australian National University’s School of Art 2008 Tapestry Exhibition.

Thank you.



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Posts: 1442

clap!!! clap!!! clap!!! clap!! great speech..  i wish i was there to listen and see the exhibits..

anybody got it on youtube?? link??

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