Bwild byheart / Story and Photos: Songpol
At Chonnabot District, Khon Kaen Province, with handwoven silk and traditional wisdom, the ordinary life that everyone engages in, because it is “the essence of existence.”
Today, we have an appointment to dye silk with Grandma Sorn, or “Mae Sor,” at her home. The journey by car from the Bwild studio takes only 30 minutes. The village is not far from the town, surrounded by rice fields and vast grasslands. The environment in the village is relatively peaceful, shaded by trees planted along the fences of each house. Each house has a front yard that connects to small lanes, and as people pass by, they greet each other. In the small rural communities, everyone knows each other well.
Under the eaves of each house, we observe wooden or metal frames shaped like rectangular frames. They have wooden beams, tied ropes, and a hundred rubber bands, along with space for people to sit. Grandma Sor explains that it is the “Ki To Pha” or “Lower Loom,” known among the people in the Isan region. It is used for weaving silk, an essential tool for the main occupation of the people in this village.
Previously, weaving was a common activity in every household. Almost every house had a lower loom placed under the house’s eaves. Weaving was done for personal use, including raising silkworms to produce silk threads and cultivating mulberry for making cotton threads. It was a self-sufficient process, where every resource could be found in the living area. Knowing the origin and production process was gratifying, especially as we can still witness this way of life today. In the present era, where machinery dominates, it’s a joy to see this traditional lifestyle persist, as everything is sourced locally and the entire production process is appreciated. This is a stark contrast to the fast-paced and cost-driven methods that have replaced traditional craftsmanship.
From weaving solely for personal use in the past to the current era of mass production, there is still a group of people striving to maintain a traditional way of life. They continue to create jobs at home, driven by a passion for their craft and a desire to showcase their creativity. This work not only opens up opportunities for self-expression but also allows for connections with like-minded individuals who share similar goals. It provides a chance to collaborate and work together in the comfort of our homes.
In an age where silk weaving can be more than just fabric, evolving into various products, designers continue to create patterns using traditional techniques. The weavers utilize their knowledge and skills to craft intricate patterns, leaving their expertise in the silk threads. The entire team learns and grows together, starting with what they have and striving to make it the best it can be.
Today, Mae Sor had the opportunity to see products created from the fabrics she wove. Bringing these products back to the starting point, allowing our artist to admire the work, Mae Sor’s beloved craft continues to generate income. Beyond the financial aspect, there is intrinsic value in the work, bringing happiness to a small individual. All this is achieved while dedicating time to work and taking care of the family simultaneously.
If profit is a measure of business success, then the quality of life, tranquility, and happiness could be measures of personal success.