Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos (Paperback)

Textiles, Tradition, and Well-Being

By Joshua Hirschstein, Maren Beck, Joe Coca (Photographer)

Thrums, LLC, 9780997216899, 224pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2017

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Winner, Gold Medal in the Travel Category, 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

Part travelogue, part silk-weaving primer, this is a tender portrait of an American family's travels in Laos's Houaphon Province. As they learn about the ancient silk weaving traditions in the hilltribe community of Xam Tai, they gain an appreciation for the strong sense of well-being in Lao culture. Over the past decade, Hirschstein and Beck have developed deep connections with the villagers of Xam Tai who raise their own fiber from silkworms, dye it using local natural dyes, and weave the patterns of their ancestors into healing cloths, ceremonial textiles, and daily wear.

About the Author

Joshua Hirschstein operates a private tutoring service and is the cofounder of Above the Fray: Traditional Hilltribe Art. Maren Beck teaches workshops on Lao and Vietnamese textiles throughout the Pacific Northwest and is the cofounder of Above the Fray. They live in Eugene, Oregon. Joe Coca is a diversified photographer with a special focus on handcrafted textiles and artisan goods. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Praise For Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos: Textiles, Tradition, and Well-Being

"Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos is a fresh and personal account of the authors’ journey to the heart of Lao weaving. I especially enjoyed their mix of personal family stories and work with the weavers and appreciated their descriptions of village life, the weavers, and their love for their craft/art. Xam Tai is a magical place where rich Lao weaving traditions come alive, born from the imagination of highly skilled weavers and handcrafted with centuries of inherited knowledge. As the world rapidly changes, this book captures a vital moment in time of the independent traditional silk weavers and weaving culture of Laos and Xam Tai."
Carol Cassidy, author of Beyond Tradition: Lao Textiles Revisited and founder of Lao Textiles
"This personal memoir combined with closely observed primary interactions with the weavers and their lives is a very unusual approach to a traditional textile book. I enjoyed getting to know personal histories of the weavers and how they operated. Technical details of spinning, dyeing, and weaving are masterfully recounted, and the photography, especially of the silks, is superb."
Gillian Green, author of the award-winning Traditional Textiles of Cambodia
"The photography is excellent and relates directly to the text. We enter the village with the aid of photographs of the houses and people and move on to see women working at their looms. We witness Lao cuisine in photographs of food laid out in small dishes, the authors looking on appreciatively. The chapters on sericulture, cotton production, and dyeing yarn are also well illustrated."
Dr. Susan Conway, Research Associate at the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, University of London
"I have only one problem with this fascinating book—it had to end! I felt so well acquainted with the weavers and the authors and the techniques that it seemed like the story should go on forever. Loving, honest, illuminating documentation is how I would characterize the text, augmented by Joe Coca’s superb photography."
Janet De Boer, editor of Australia’s Textile Fibre Forum magazine for 30 years