Discovering the Asian Craft Map

Have you ever been interested in finding out about alternative ways of making clothes? You know, the kind that you never thought possible but that actually results in something wearable. The Textile Atlas, by Sharon de Lyster of Narrative Made, records Asian crafts off the beaten path; not just the tourist goods sold in every shop in Phuket (although there is nothing wrong with those either, as long as they are ethically made). There are traditional techniques from all corners of Asia, that you would never believe exist in the first place, let alone still thrive. While documenting heritage craft, the resource is meant to promote transparency within the supply chain as well. So if you are a textile geek like we are, or simply curious to know if anything in textiles could still surprise you, read on about our favourite crafts that we found on The Textile Atlas.

Lotus weaving from Myanmar
Pineapple silk in the Philippines
Eri Silk in Assam, India

One particular craft that we found intriguing was the Lotus Weaving from Myanmar. It is made from a lotus stem fiber, and the result is a highly textured textile. The colour of the fabric is a natural brownish colour like hemp, but the feel of it is softer. This rare and expensive material is usually mixed with other fibers, which also gives textural contrast.

 

Pineapple cloth from the Philippines is another interesting technique, using the thin yarns from the pineapple leaves. Pineapple cloth is very fine and thin material, and has been experiencing a surge since fashion brands started using pineapple leather for shoes. The technique has been passed down for generations in the Western Visayas where ample pineapple resources sparked the idea for this innovative craft.

Are you vegan? Then perhaps you’d be interested in knowing a little more about Eri silk, or peace silk as some aptly call it. This is the kind of silk that doesn’t kill the silkworm within its cocoon. It is a practice popular in Assam in India, but not popular enough to be used widely, as it is rare for the silkworm to leave the cocoon it creates.

 

Or perhaps you would be interested in a community that communicates through fabric patterns and ways of making, songs and faith. Known for their intricate needlework, the Miao people of China demonstrate their virtues through their work; incredible patience, restraint, modesty and respect for their ancestors.

 

Nepalese weavers use nettle plant fiber from the Himalayas to create bright fabrics from natural dyes such as persimmon, hops and pomegranate. Nettle is made into fabric from the stalks of the plant, and the fabric is similar to linen except much stronger. Who would’ve guessed stinging nettle would turn into the sustainable alternative you never knew you needed?

The Textile Atlas records Asian crafts off the beaten path

Written by Jennie Barck

Photographs by Emily Lush, Catherine Allié, WSDO and Eco Salon

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