April 16, 2014

Textile Trip 2014: Ock Pop Tok and Almsgiving Ceremony

This post is about the rest of the time we spent in Luang Prabang. It's going to be photo heavy and I will keep the writing to a minimum. Ock Pop Tok, means East meets West. It was started in 2000 by a Laotian weaver and an English photographer. Combining a passion for textiles and natural dye, OPT brings people together through textiles: exchanging knowledge and ideas. We booked in a full day workshop of natural dyeing and weaving at OPT. As you can imagine, it was the best day of my stay in Luang Prabang. 

I will walk you through our workshop at OPT with the photos. In the second part of this post I will show you some photos of an alms giving procession ceremony in Luang Prabang. Enjoy! 

The picturesque setting of OPT when you arrive

Hands of natural dyed threads hanging out
to dry

Weaving is part of the workshop.
I wove this piece from indigo
and natural silk

The weaving pattern made out of fine threads.

Woven cloth samples at Ock Pop Tok

An experienced weaver working on a masterpiece

Wooden shuttles from the workshop

Work in progress by  a master weaver

A commissioned piece by a master weaver.
This is the underside of the work

Tool bag on each loom made from
indigo dyed fabric
Now for dyeing workshop. I do this back to front. I should start with dyeing because that what we did that day. We booked in for a whole day of dyeing and weaving workshop at Ock Pop Tok. We got dropped of in the morning. When we arrived we saw hank of dyed yarns hanging out to dry in the yard,  we knew we would have a smashing day there.

Sample of  plants used in natural dyeing

Sappan tree, I was pleased to see it live

Different kinds of plants were cooking
ready for us to use

These were Sappan wood-chips I chopped up

Here are the silk yarns we dyed that day

Ikat silk yarns dyed and ready to be revealed 

As promised on my last post I will post more photos and tell you about the Almsgiving ceremony. Each morning at down in Luang Probang the local Buddhist monks form a procession around the streets of this charming town, collecting alms of rice and vegetables from the local population. Almsgiving is an integral part of the Buddhist philosophy, earning the giver merit, or 'bun', towards their next life, enhancing their chances of improving their existence next time around. Taking part in this daily ritual was one of the highlights of my stay in Luang Probang.

How to respect the Tak Bat:
  • Observe the ritual in silence and contribute an offering only if it is meaningful for you and can do so respectfully.
  • Bring freshly prepared food or sweet for offering.
  • If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep appropriate distance and behave respectfully. Do not get in the way of the monks' procession or the believers offerings.
  • Do not stand too close to the monks when taking photographs; camera flashes are very disturbing for both monks and the lay people.
  • Dress appropriately: chests and legs should be covered.
  • Do not make physical contact with the monks.
Take part in the Almsgiving ceremony by protecting its dignity and its beauty. Information taken from Dept. of Information, Culture and Tourism, Luang Prabang.

The ritual of Almsgiving

Monks walking in a row or individually from
6:00-6:30 am 

For a magical reason each group of monks
would have one or two street dogs running
in front of them

Monks were barefoot on the Almsgiving round

Each monk was carrying Alms bowls to receive
the offerings 

Recalling the event of Almsgiving ceremony brought back a nice memory I experienced there in person. I woke up at the crack of dawn to be there. It was worth every minute. We actually went back there the next day and did it all over again. After the Almsgiving ceremony we visited the morning market. 

My next post is about Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There is so much I can tell you about Siem Reap so don't miss it. I will be away for Easter break for a couple of weeks so please be patient. 

Until next time


Nedra said...

Nat, this is all so interesting! I love the work of the Master Weaver,(WOW!) and to learn about (and see pictures) of the Almsgiving Ceremony. Thank you again for sharing your trip with us.

Needled Mom said...

That sounds like an amazing day! The weaving photos are stunning and the colors of the yarns are really beautiful.

I found the Almsgiving ceremony very interesting too. I can see why you went back the next day.

deanna7trees said...

it's all so fascinating and informative. enjoy your Easter holiday.

Jude Craig said...

Well, that just makes me want to visit and do exactly what you have done....so inspiring Nat. Live your blog x

ria vogelzang said...

It looks absolutely stunning!!! What a great day you had!
Love to read all about your trip! Your previous post also was a delight to read!
Love, Ria.

Nifty Quilts said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of this! You actually wove the that?! Have a good Easter break.

Tracy said...

So much enjoying these posts and photos from your trip, Nat! There's something very moving about the alms ceremony... :o) Wishing you & yours HAPPY EASTER ((HUGS))

Els said...

What an impressive post Nat !
Ahhhh looking at weaving and dyeing .... Always a treat !!!!

Lis Harwood said...

Such inspiration for your weaving there Nat. Thank you for the information about the almsgiving, I'm glad people are respectful and that it hasn't become a tourist swamped ceremony.

Anonymous said...

thanks for all the pictures of thread and dyeing and weaving... but my favorite part was about the Almsgiving.

Judy Martin said...

It took time for you to put this blog post together for us, your readers, and for that time that you gave so freely, time being the most valuable of things we each have possession of, I thank you.

You have opened my eyes to the wonders of your trip. So educational and beautiful. Thank you Nat.

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