INLE, Myanmar: If there should be any textile fitting for faith and devotion, a piece of fine fabric meticulously woven by hand from the delicate fibres of tens of thousands of lotus stems is no doubt one of the top contenders.
“A square metre of this fabric requires at least 20,000 lotus stems and takes a skilled artisan 40 days to produce,” said Myint Thein Htun, owner of the established lotus weaving centre Khit Sunn Yin.
The lotus’ beauty, symbolic of purity of the mind in Buddhism, inspired the devout artisan to turn its delicate filaments into a monk robe – a sacred offering of passionate devotion and purity of the soul. Legend has it that Sa Oo spent one whole year extracting and weaving lotus fibres into an exquisite garment for an abbot she revered.
“The stem is long and fresh in deep water but short and weak in shallow areas,” said Myint Thein Htun. His family has been making lotus fabric for four generations and is renowned for its expertise in the craft.
“If we harvest in the dry season when the mud is less fertile, the stem won’t be strong enough.”
After the harvest, each stem is gently cut with a fine blade and carefully pulled apart to expose the delicate fibres within. These almost transparent filaments are then rolled on a moist surface into a thread.
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