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Entries in weaving (28)


Mekong Blue

Mekong Blue, the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center is in Northeast Cambodia.

Fifty women are trained in a six-month silk weaving course. They plant mulberry, harvest, dye and weave silk textiles. It is a UNESCO award winner known for superior quality, creativity and originality. 

Mulberry leaves everything behind. Worms eat the leaves. Their saliva makes yellow cocoons. Saliva becomes a protein and stronger than steel. They boil silkworm cocoons to extract raw yellow silk. One thread is 300 meters long.

It is separated into soft and fine threads. Women dye the threads using natural materials: banana (yellow), bougainvillea (yellow), almond leaves (black), lac insect nests (red and purple), prohut wood (yellow and green), lychee wood (black and gray), indigo (blue), and coconut (brown and pink).

Women also weave Ikat, a technique creating patterns on silk threads prior to dyeing and weaving. It is called HOL with 200 motifs.

The center improves the women’s quality of life. It breaks the cycle of poverty through vocational training and educational programs.

They have a primary school with thirty-five kids and two teachers. Everyone receives lunch. It is the single biggest employer in town after the government.

Mekong Blue



She had duende, a fundamentally untranslatable Spanish word, literally meaning possessing spirit.

It signified a charisma manifested by certain performers—flamenco dancers, bullfighters, elves, seers, weavers—overwhelming their audience with the feeling they were in the presence of a mystical power.

The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca produced the best brief description of duende: “Years ago, during a flamenco dance contest in Jerez, an old woman of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize by simply raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the platform with a single blow of her heel; but in that gathering of muses and angels, of beautiful forms and lovely smiles, the dying duende triumphed as it had to, dragging the rusted blades of its wings along the ground.”


Little Wing followed a tribal trail from Cadiz to Grazalema, named Lacilbula by the Romans where, after weaving morning pages she returned to the Rio Guadalete River below the pueblo flowing from the Sierras to Cadiz.

The battle of Guadalete was fought on July 19, 711 when 7,000 Yemenis and Berbers led by Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated the Visgoth King Roderic.

Rio needed cleaning. Thick autumn yellow, green and brown leaves trapped between rocks clogged river sections. Liquid backed up to mountains beneath fast gray storm clouds.

Using her walking stick, she clamored down a slippery slope and worked her way up the Rio clearing sticks, leaves and stones blocking the flow. There were green maple, silver aspen, brown oak leaves. Old black water logged decayed colors danced with fresh green and orange pigments.

She was the unimpeded flow. A child playing near water and rocks in her dream world.

Serene sweet water music.

Rocks, stepping stones.

Small pools and meditation zones. She felt peaceful.

Bird music darted up the canyon.

She cleared leaves past twilight, staggered up the muddy incline and faced the Rio in silent gratitude. She performed healing chants next to a bare Aspen tree.

She passed a crying Virgin Mary statue illuminated by melting red candles in a rocky crevice behind a locked gate.

Mary’s blood flowed over jagged gray dolomite stones flecked with green moss.

Little Wing collected a hemoglobin sample for weaving, crossed a stone bridge and returned home. She lit candles, started a fire, and relaxed in her chair enjoying a deep breath before bleeding words to dye loom fabric.

The loom was her instrument of transformation.

Wool was the hair of the sacrificial beast which women by a long and cultured tribal process, transformed into clothing.

Weaving skirts the sacred and the violent.

Her power at the loom was derided, dreaded and illuminating.

Transformed giving birth to symbolic language with new positive ends. Duende.

 A Century is Nothing

Mekong Blue - Women's Development Center, Stung Treng, Cambodia


Riverside, Laos

Tourists passed through Riverside in north Laos.

They stayed 2-3 days exploring villages up river, crawling through deep dark unconscious caves where Lao lived for nine years when Americans bombed them back to the Stone Age; trekking through mud with leeches sucking hemoglobin, climbing vertical granite mountains overcoming unknown fears and relaxing.

Lao became refugees in Thailand. 200,000 plus immigrated to Minnesota. Colder than the Plain of Jars in Jan you wary.

This is the life, said an Italian girl morphing into a blue, yellow and white monarch butterfly with wings of light. She flew away on a soft breeze.

Tourists find. Travelers discover.

Traveling isn't fun, said a French father to his whining son, it's an adventure. Yeah, yeah, said son, smashing his fragile heart on a sheer granite stone face rising over a roaring brown river feeling loss and confusion leading to wisdom and delight.


What am I doing in this primitive natural place dancing with orange, blue, black, brown, white fluttering butterflies? I could be home playing with electronics. My dad drags me around Earth. Life's a bitch. Fat chance said dad. We are here to get out of our comfort zone. Shake rattle and roll.

How did I grow said a fluttering black and blue butterfly. White orange sunsets gathered clouds for a conference. Sky mind, cloud thoughts.

Three neurotic American women sat in the restaurant one morning. Dalao the cook said, the buffet is here, gesturing to the sideboard. Oh, said one woman, we were waiting for someone to bring us something. So it goes in their prejudicial world of expectations, sense of entitlement, profound paradoxes and innate lazy stupidity.

Ha, ha, said laughter laughing, life's fateful joke is on you. Do it yourself.

The stranger said eating well is important for a balanced diet. They found this funny. Momentarily. Time stopped.

Lapsing into personal quicksand they loaded up china with apples, bananas, dragon fruit, bacon, potatoes, eggs, yogurt, and bread. Expectations slathered their small short Laos experience with anxiety. They resumed looking at gadgets. No speak.

Lost human connection.

Isolation, alienation, boredom and fear's patience noted their neurosis.

I feel alone, said Isolation staring at a mirror seeking Beauty who had no tongue. She was the mother of death.

I don't fit in, said Alienation. Smiling talking visitors appear to know someone. Nobody talks to me or likes me.

Boredom said, don't be fooled by appearances, they are all strangers to themselves. Schizophrenics seek solace in the company of other strangers. I'm bored. Pure and simple and I need an AI electronic fix.

What's AI, said Fear's Patience.

Authentic individuality, said Boredom looking for time. I know it's around here somewhere I know I packed it. I should travel lighter being light.

Space-time folded.


The Yankee Doodle Dandies plugged personal electronic gadget DNA into a wi-fi signal. They ignored each other. Now we feel human.

One morning a Spanish man said, my boys love playing in the mud here. We don't have mud in Barcelona only cement. I've never seen them so happy for hours.

A relaxed European man seeing life's river flowing smiled, This is my Shangria-la. There have been a couple of places where I feel this. I don't need to go anywhere. I sit contemplating the river, mountains. I explore. I meet the people. I experience the essence of real life here. I slow. Down.

A French father of two kids said, this is a positive experience for my children. They've seen people making things with their hands; baskets, clothing, boats, bamboo walls for homes, slingshots for hunting birds. My kids' artificial world is pre-packaged junk in supermarkets and department stores with labels, "Made in China." They've seen the real world here. How people live.

One morning the English facilitator watched the man and his wife, son and daughter eating. The boy, 15, got up walked around the table and gave his father a hug. The father's right arm embraced his son. They held each other for eternity. The stranger cried seeing this love.

We are decompressing from cities, said a French mother of three, 4, 10, 12. Sharp mountains wearing forests welcomed floating clouds. Rising water above, flowing water below.

How wonderful, she said, three weeks with no electronics.

The stranger and French family with three kids sailed up the Nam Ou. They stopped near a village in a jungle. They walked through sand and up a steep path. The four-year old studied trails of black ants.

Bamboo homes, orange satellite dishes, packed earth, forests, community. Local girls gravitated to new friends, holding hands, laughing, plaiting French hair and sharing flowers. Language lived outside boundaries. Childhood. Instinct.

Village girls walked new friends to the shore to wave goodbye. Our future is now. They returned to the jungle past footprints collecting memories.

Kids sailed through narrow passages of streaked rocks, past rising karst formations, thick jungles and tenuous black gnarled roots submerged in rapid brown water to Supjam, a weaving village.

Shy women displayed their cotton and silk scarves, rainbows of color waved on bamboo poles outside homes. Soft sell smile.

Sky watered Earth. Shelter from the storm.

Rain lashed everything. Looms clacked as girls compressed threads. Black and white ducklings waddled through puddles enamoring kids. Mother bought a white diamond silk scarf. The facilitator discovered a blue piece. Children mesmerized by looms, hands and feet playing gentle treadle rhythms. Music.

Water melodies danced off PSP roofs.

Puddles muddy paths. Life.

The world is a village.

Cry me a river, I'd like to see you cry me a river.

I'm tired of crying a river over you.

Now you say you love me.

The current carried them down river through rapids. Father snapped images of jungles, trees, mountains, river, moments in time. We'll look at these memories when we get home. Freeze a memory.

They evolved in a Zen painting.

Be the water.

Be the brush.

Be the ink.

Be the paper.

River said, where are you going?

Children sang, row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

Mountains, clouds, forests, spiders, butterflies joined the chorus.

A Little BS


Other, Shadow & Weaver

I am afraid, said the Swiss girl, of becoming the Stranger, the Other.

The Other. I am Other said Shadow. Outsider.

I'm afraid of always being the Other, she said.

Why? said Shadow.

It's fear I suppose, it's difficult to articulate. It's a sense of feeling apart, separate from people.

I know it, Shadow said, I'm like that. I live on the edge. I engage. I am vulnerable, open, honest maintaining a sense of detachment.

How is it this sense of outside? she said.

It's objective, he said.

Shadow felt her vision escape toward the weaver at her loom creating her meditation.

I am the shuttle sliding across threads, Weaver said. I am smooth aged wood holding two bobbins. One is golden silk thread, the other purple.

As I slide threads bobbins spin at the speed of light releasing, ah all the releasing, letting go of myself trailing into and between thin black origins - the essence where I rest.

Weaver cautions Shadow with her fingers - purple and golden desires lie tight. She pulls her emptiness toward me, hands and feet.

I feel connected, said Weaver.

I am bound to Others before me.

I wait for Others to join me.

I am part of the whole. Part of the grand design inside her dream.

I pass through. I am not dreaming. I am here and now.


Loom Of Time

You returned with secret joy
Yes she says my dream of you is unfolding

She caresses silk threads on her loom of time
Your sensitivity and serenity calms me he says

Before dawn
The Mekong is water
Fog obscures distance
She stands at a window looking for him

On the river
His net flies over still deep water
Threads and knots of jungle vine grace surface
Sink into silence

Hearing the Mekong sing
She returns to the source
Dreaming voiced silent whispers
Silence becomes her desire
Gratitude her awareness
Calms her tortured heart

A leaf leaves the tree of life
Flutters like a heart beat

Transparent water bowls sing
A purple lotus rows from mud

At her loom
Her pattern begins with purple silk
Her base
She threads thin lines of balance

She spins out golden threads for new diamonds
Weaving her meditation

Her voice
Hands fingers heart-mind