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Dear Kay,

Here’s a quick six minutes of inspiration for you: the story of Carol Cassidy, a weaver from Connecticut who has lived and worked in Laos for 30 years, preserving, celebrating, and promoting the ancient traditions of handmade textiles. You think you know a little bit about the world, then whammo: you hear about Vientiane, Laos, and you feel like an idiot.

Here’s the PBS NewsHour story: “The weaver who helped resurrect an endangered Lao artform.”

And here’s the website for Lao Textiles, which frankly makes me yearn for more photos of this extraordinary weaving. The intricacy of these weavings is hard to fathom. Maybe two centimeters a day come from a day’s work.


[Runs off to Google “Lao Textiles,” “Let’s Go Laos,” “how to pack duffel bag with textiles.”]



(photos © Ock Pop Tok)


  • President Obama has certainly don’t a lot to open up hitherto obscure (to is in the continent-wide U.S.) I have learned from every trip he’s taken. He respects each country’s culture. The weaving is so beautiful. What an amazing thing that it was rescued from oblivion.

  • Thank you for opening our eyes once again. Beautiful!!

  • “You think you know a little bit about the world, then whammo”
    Over and over again.
    Ain’t it grand! 🙂

  • Whammo!

    Having recently dropped off a kid at her dorm, you want the largest LLBean duffle. You could carry a living room rug in one of those things, with room for the curtains.

    • She may need two, Kay. Gorgeous!

  • To see yet another place with an amazing weaving tradition, google Bhutan textiles.

  • I have visited Laos twice, and actually got married there, in a (mostly) traditional Lao ceremony. (BEAUTIFUL embroidered silk dress, which I was not allowed to buy because it is shared around the village as each woman gets married.) One of the most lovely cultures in the world, with truly the most generous people I have ever encountered. Pack yer bags, everyone, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Laos!

    • Sharing the dress is brilliant and a lovely tradition!

  • That is absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • wow. those tiny threads. just wow.

  • Beautiful! It looks a lot like the kind of weaving they do in Bhutan … so fine and complicated, it made my head spin to watch them work. Tiny threads and incredibly detailed patterns.

  • Stunning work and quite a woman.

  • Two centimeters a day…what an incredible weaver…what incredibly beautiful work! What a journey for this amazing woman- from Connecticut to Laos! I’m at a total loss for words (which rarely happens!). Thanks so much for sharing, Ann!

  • I saw your lead photo and thought that looks Lao! and surprisingly, it WAS Lao! So glad you found “us”!

    YES! Come to Thailand AND to Laos! I will be your guide! I speak Thai fluently and Lao people understand Thai!

    Thailand also has a wonderful weaving tradition, especially intricate in the northeast, which borders Laos. The designs are surprisingly different from Lao designs. One big difference is that most Lao design are done as borders for the sarongs while the Thai ones are an all-over design. A maid in the office I work at just retired to go home and live in her home village and is weaving there and teaching weaving – she would love to host a group from the US!

    I am thrilled when others recognize the beauty of the handicrafts in the countries I call home (I spent some years in Laos as a child as well). Please come!

  • Wow, that is certainly an inspirational video! I was just in Luang Prabang, Laos and did a one day weaving and natural dyeing workshop with Ock Pop Tok. I wrote a short blog post about it here: Although I didn’t make it to Vientiane, Lao Textiles looks like it would have been amazing to visit! I guess I’ll have to save it for another trip. Definitely want to return to Laos. Their markets have the most beautifully handcrafted items (especially in terms of woven fabrics and scarves) that I have seen in my travels so far.

  • While we’re talking textile arts that have roots in Laos (and nearby places), I want to point those interested to the fascinating world of Hmong textiles. So much to say here about the role of needle arts in a people’s self-identity, self-construction, and survival through enormous upheaval. A few starting points:
    (a beautiful video from 1991, with an intro to the recent history of the Hmong, and detailed footage showing how four Hmong women living in Rhode Island practice different textile arts, including cross-stitch, indigo batik, and reverse appliqué)
    (a short video produced by Stone Soup Fresno and made available by the Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota about what Hmong textile arts mean to the lives of Hmong women) (virtual Hmong textile museum) (Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota web site, with links to lots of information on Hmong history, culture, diaspora, etc)

  • What a fascinating story. We had a lovely Laotian family who went to my childhood church in the 70’s and 80’s who had fled from all the craziness in their home country. I had no idea Laos had such a rich textile tradition.

  • You will not be disappointed in Laos or, as Riki says, Thailand either. Beautiful textiles everywhere, lovely people, and amazing countryside. Pack your bags and let’s go!

    • I’m here waiting!

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