Art & Culture

Silk Weaving

Myanmar people proudly wear hand-woven silk materials at auspicious occasions. Myanmar turban, Myanmar jackets and silk longyis are worn by Myanmar men while intricate designs woven with plain silk blouses and silk shawls are proudly worn by Myanmar ladies. Although the colors and patterns of silk-woven materials have changed since the time of Myanmar kings, they are still proudly worn by Myanmar.
     Myanmar silk material is mainly used to make Cheit longyis.
     When we weave the silk firstly, three or four raw silk threads are twisted tightly with the aid of the machine, thus making it taut and smooth. After that, silk-woven faces are removed by washing in boiled soap-nut liquid. You will have to boil and wash more thoroughly the threads, which are to be used for the designs, because they need to be softer than ordinary silk thread. Then you have to add the desire color you want, to the boiled water. After dyeing the threads for about 30 minutes, you have to rinse the excessive dye from the threads. Then use water, repeatedly to wash the dyed threads and later dry them in the sunlight. In this way, you get beautiful smooth dyed-silk threads. To weave the silk threads; you wind the right amount of threads; you will be needed, into the bobbins you’re going to use. After attaching the bobbins on the loom, the weavers will weave the desired weaving patterns.
     The patterns are horizontal wavy lines of various sizes and numbers. There are up to 300 small bobbins used to weave very intricate and complicated designs. Traditionally, designs have named like royal thread, 6 design thread, 5 design thread, 4 design thread and so forth, depending on the usage of color and the number of small bobbins used for the particular design. In olden days, people used to prefer the design with more colors. But nowadays people prefer soft and smooth silk threads with the only addition of 2 to 3 colors. Cheit nowadays based on traditional designs woven with more modern colors and designs is still winning the heart of the locals and foreign visitors.
     People are justly proud to dress themselves in such prestigious and artistically crafted material to attend official functions, religious and social occasions, weddings and ceremonies. Various artists on the stage also wear these resplendent garments. The model worn by men is called pasoe which is a sarong-like attire and the model worn by women is called htamein which is like a skirt, both can have a distinctive wave pattern. Men’s silk have diamond, jasmine or pearl designs.
     The top quality cheit longyi is called a product of 100 shuttles because that number of small shuttles must be used in the painstaking process of weaving each piece.
     In Amarapura city, not far from Mandalay, 100-shuttles looms acheik, pasoes, longyies and shawls are woven in a variety of designs and colors.
     The young women weavers must have great skill; even three years of training may not be sufficient for a to become a proficient artisan. A single cheit longyi takes 180 times longer to weave than an ordinary. The weavers working together can complete only four centimeters of fabric per day and it takes almost one month to finish a single longyi of this type.