The beautiful naturally dyed cloth of the Ba’ker’yaw (Sgaw Karen) people is famous. Spinning cotton, dying vibrant colors out of natural materials (bark, leaves, seeds and earth) relies on both the deep indigenous knowledge of the weavers, but also on a healthy ecosystem that supports the plants they use to dye the cloth.
This film will tell the story of the weavers of Huay Hee and Huay Tong Gaw villages in the remote mountains of Mae Hong Son province. Maintaining their cultural identity is important to these communities, and keeping the traditions of weaving and traditional clothing alive is a critical part of that. From selecting the right seeds, to how to spin and prepare the traditional back-strap looms, this film will tell the story of traditional Karen cloth, and the women who maintain and support these traditions.
What is so interesting about this story is how directly cultural practices and material culture is intrinsically linked to their ecological home, and the forests and fields of upland Southeast Asia. More than just about cloth, this shows how stories, songs and indigenous knowledge link together human and ecological communities.