fabric made in Battambang, Cambodia and visit the lotus manufacture.
A new fabric, a unique fabric, organic fabric.
The lotus is an aquatic
perennial which spreads on thousand hectares in Cambodia.
Thoses pink and white flowers are sacred
in part of Asia
Samatoa has experienced a unique handmade
process in order to extract the fibers of the stems and
to weave it.Samatoa is proud to offer now a new
The lotus fabric
looks like a blend of linen and silk.
of the lotus fabric are unique:
breathable and wrinkle-free.
Samatoa has trained and educated underprivileged
womens leaving around the spectacular lotus lake of Kamping Poy
near Battambang in Cambodia.
Weaving at Kamping Poy Battambang- Cambodia
Lotus-fiber weaving takes place in Cambodia on the spectacular
giant lotus lake of Kamping Poy near Battambang in Cambodia. Here,
they farm the lotus all during the years from generation to generation
in order to extract and sell the seeds of buy khmer silk.
According to informants, this activity began around 1910 when
a Daw Sa Oo (Madame Sparrow’s Egg) in the interest of
gaining merit set out to produce a set of robes for the highly
revered abbot of a nearby monastery, from the fibers of the
local padonma-kya lotus plant, which grew wild in the shallows
of the lake. With the help of her friends she experimented with
various filament extraction and preparation processes, eventually
weaving a set of robes to her liking.11 The delighted abbot
had the weaver’s name changed to Daw Kya Oo (Madame Lotus
Egg) in honor of her pious achievement. Daw Kya Oo and her friends
throughout their lives continued to weave with lotus yarn for
meritorious rather than commercial purposes, producing one or
two sets of robes a year for eminent local abbots. None of Daw
Kya Oo’s progeny are currently involved in weaving, but
the descendants of her friends have continued the tradition.
Fibers and Looms
The lotus leaf stems are gathered by younger women
in the morning. After removing the nubbly prickets with a coconut
husk, the stems are then placed beside the young woman seated
at a low table. A shallow knife cut is made around a bunch of
5-6 stems which are quickly snapped off and twisted to reveal
some 20- to 30 fine white filaments that are drawn and rolled
into a single thread which is coiled onto a plate seen on the
left. It takes approximately 25 women making thread to keep one
Weaving the Yarn
The yarns are prepared for weaving by placing the skeins on
a bamboo spinning frame and transferring the thread onto winders
in readiness for the warping process. Taking care to avoid tangling,
the 40 meters long threads are then lifted from warping posts
and coiled into huge plastic bags, while yarn for the weft is
wound onto small bamboo bobbins.
Lotus-fiber fabric is woven on a traditional Cambodian frame
loom. Weaving components include a cloth beam, a large warp
spacer-beater, and a pair of heddles supported by a transverse
bar resting above the frame. The heddles are connected by rope
to a pair of wooden, disc-shaped foot treadles.
There is no warp beam on a Cambodian loom. The excess warp
is stored behind the weaver and released as weaving progresses.
This limits the width of cloth woven to around 24 inches (60-75
cm). The use of a temple keeps the selvages straight while water
is on hand to moisten the threads during the course of weaving.
Given the aquatic origin of the fabric, weavers feel that lotus
fibers need to “remain cool.” The fabric is woven
in 100 yard (90-meter) batches, which take about a month and
a half to complete. The weavers have estimated that fibers from
around 120,000 lotus stems are needed to weave the fabric for
a costume. The fabric is then dyed either with chemical or natural
dyes to a reddish- brown shade before being cut into patches
of different sizes and machine sewn together in rows to resemble
the mosaic-like appearance of community owned rice fields prevalent
at the time of the Buddha.
The Symbolism of the Lotus
Anchored in the sludge of the primordial waters of the universe,
and rising unsullied above the surface in perfect splendor,
the lotus in Buddhism has come to symbolize the potential in
all sentient beings to grow beyond the base mundane desires
of earthly existence to become truly enlightened beings, as
personified by the Buddha within this bronze lotus
Lotus Weaving Myths
Although now firmly ensconced within the Theravada fold, Cambodia,
through early trading and missionary contacts has been exposed
to a variety of religious philosophies from India. This is significant
because the lotus also figures prominently in Hindu art, mythology,
and literature, and in a number of instances a connection has
been made between weaving and the lotus.
Of particular note is the account of how the Hindu deity Visnu
as the supreme god Narayana gave birth to the universe. While
reclining on a serpent in a mysterious slumber, a lotus stem
sprung from his navel bearing the gods of the Hindu triad—Brahma,
Visnu, and Siva. This popular Hindu creation myth, has been
taken by the Devanga weaving caste of Mysore, to herald the
origin of weaving on the subcontinent. This is because Manu,
the mythical progenitor of the human race, fetched the thread
for weaving from the heart of the lotus stems that grew out
of the navel of Vishnu.
Stone reliefs depicting this creation myth uncovered on many
telples at Angkor in Cambodia attest to the fact that early
inhabitants there were familiar with such popular Hindu mythology.
There is also a reference to the weaving of lotus robes for
a future Buddha in a neighboring central Thai version of the
Hindu Ramayana epic, where the hero Rama slays a powerful giant
whose daughter was betrothed to Maitreya, the Buddha of the
future. While she awaited his coming, she kept herself busy
by weaving him robe made from the filaments of lotus stalks.
It has been noted that some legendary beauties of Burmese literature
owed their physical charms to the fact that they had woven lotus
thread in previous existences.
Wither the Lotus?
With the opening up of Cambodia to tourism, Battambang and the
Kamping Poy Lake become a popular destination for foreign travelers.
Visits from Japanese tourists with an affinity for natural bast
fibers eventually led to contact with some haute couture designers
in Japan or US who expressed an interest in obtaining amounts
of lotus fiber fabric to make blazers and skirts for exclusive
clothing boutiques in Tokyo.
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