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Recommended Books on Traditional Hilltribe Art of Laos, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia

If you are as intrigued and awed about the art, cultures, customs and artists presented on our website as we are, we highly recommend the books listed below. Many of the following publication are out-of-print or published overseas, so you may have better luck locating new or used copies at a meta-search “bookstore” such as abebooks.com.

If you have any questions, or additional recommended books, please contact us.

Patterns on Textiles of the Ethnic Groups in Northeast of Vietnam.
Diep Trung Binh. Nha Xuat Ban My Thuat Publishers, Hanoi, 1997. 192 pages, 293 illustrations. This two volume set showcases textiles from more than 20 ethnic groups in Northeastern Vietnam including the Tay, Nung, Lo Lo, Phu La, H’mong and Dzao people. Text is in both English and Vietnamese.

Buddhist Textiles of Laos, Lan Na, and the Isan: The Iconography of Design Elements.
Frederick Bunce. D.K. Printworld, Ltd., New Delhi, 2004. 411 pages. B/W plates of design motifs. An in-depth study and description of 457 design motifs found in Lao and Thai textiles.

Costume and Culture: Vanishing Textiles of Some of the Tai Groups in Lao P.D.R.
Patricia Cheesman (Naenna). Studio Naenna Co., Chiang Mai, Thailand, 1990. 44 pages, 128 color photos. This small volume surveys textiles from Houaphan province and Xiang Khouang province; it also discusses the influences of court textiles. The same material is covered in much more detail in the author's book below, Lao - Tai Textiles: The Textiles of Xam Nuea and Muang Phuan.

Lao - Tai Textiles: The Textiles of Xam Nuea and Muang Phuan.
Patricia Cheesman. Studio Naenna Co., Chiang Mai, 2004. 297 pages, hundreds of color and b/w photos. This book, which we consider our “Bible” for Lao textiles, is the result of Ms. Cheesman’s 30 years of field work. It is an exhaustive study of the costume and household textiles from two provinces in northeast Laos renown for their quality traditional textiles. It covers their history, use, weaving techniques, dyes, and symbolism.

Lao Textiles and Traditions.
Mary F. Connors, Oxford University Press, New York. 1996. 82 pages, 24 color plates, 25 black and white photos. This small book focuses on the cultural and historical background of the Lao-Tai women who produce exquisitely woven, naturally dyed textiles. Tai. It emphasizes the integral part played by textiles in the social and spiritual life of Lao village women.

Thai Textiles.
Susan Conway. British Museum Press, London 1992. 192 pages, 105 color and 55 b/w illustrations. Over the centuries, weavers from China, Burma, Laos and Cambodia have migrated into Thailand bringing their unique textile traditions with them. This book includes an ethnic and historical survey of the people, a discussion of religious and social traditions, and notes on the role textiles play in the weavers' lives. It fully describes the traditional, and still flourishing, art of silk and cotton spinning, dyeing and weaving and traces the evolution of Southeast Asian costume styles and patterns.

Textiles and the Tai Experience in Southeast Asia.
Mattiebelle Gittinger and H. Leedon Lefferts, Jr. Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., 1992. 264 pages, 24 color and 196 b/w photos. This volume, published as a catalogue for a Textile Museum exhibition, includes discussions of the textile traditions of Laos and Thailand, including the Thai, the Lao, the Shan of Burma and people across southern China. It considers the religious, royal, and personal needs served by the art form.

"Textiles and Textile Customs of the Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, and Their Neighbors in Northern Laos."
Mattiebelle Gittiniger, Karen Anderson Chungyampin, and Chanporn Saiyalard. Textile Museum Journal, 1995-1996, Volumes 34 and 35, pp 93-112. The notes collected for this article focus on the weavings of two groups of Tai weavers, and describes their traditional domestic and ritual use.

Lao Mien Embroidery: Migration and Change.
Ann Yarwood Goldman. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 1995. 72 pages, with many color photos. This is a study of the embroidery of one subgroup of Yao people who lived in northwest Laos until the Vietnamese War forced them into refugee centers; many eventually resettled in the US, Canada and France. This study closely examines the embroidery techniques, the motifs, and the changes the tradition has undergone at a most challenging time.

Textiles of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
Michael C. Howard and Kim Be Howard. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 2002. 220 pages. 201 color and many b/w photos illustrating the peoples and their textiles. This is the first survey of the textiles of the peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and covers 21 ethnic groups who speak Malayo-Polynesian and Mon-Khmer languages. The book provides background on the history and culture of these groups and it discusses their weaving and dress traditions.

Textiles of the Daic Peoples of Vietnam.
Michael C. Howard and Kim Be Howard. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 2002. 290 pages. 295 color and many b/w photos illustrating the peoples and their textiles. This is the first thorough survey of the textiles of the 25+ ethnic groups in Vietnam who speak Daic languages. The book provides background on the history and culture of these groups and it discusses their weaving and dress traditions.

Textiles of Highland Peoples of Northern Vietnam.
Michael C. Howard and Kim Be Howard. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 2002. 224 pages. 235 color and many b/w photos illustrating the peoples and their textiles. This is the first survey of the textiles of the peoples of the northern mountains of Vietnam, and covers over 40 ethnic groups who speak Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien, and Tibeto-Burman languages. The book provides background on the history and culture of these groups and it discusses their weaving and dress traditions.

A World Between the Warps: Southeast Asia’s Supplementary Warp Textiles.
Michael C. Howard. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 2008. 206 pages. 499 color photos. This is the first thorough survey of Southeast Asia’s supplemental wrap and warp float patterned textiles. This book describes the weaving technique and lavishly illustrates the textiles and how they are used in many different cultures, including cultures in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the South Pacific.

Legends in the Weaving.
Dara Kanlaya. The Japan Foundation Asia Center, Khon Kaen, Thailand, 2001. 146 pages, many color photos. This publication, with contributions by several Lao textile specialists, deals with the role of weaving in the Lao village. This book describes textile techniques, looms and dyeing, design motifs, and most notably, the folklore surrounding the importance of weaving practices in the life of Lao women. Text is in both English and Lao.

Peoples of the Golden Triangle.
Paul and Elaine Lewis. London, 1984. 225 pages, 754 illustrations. This colorful book surveys six distinct Southeast Asian ethnic groups: Karen, H’mong, Mien, Lahu, Akha and Lisu. It discusses their beliefs, customs, ceremonies and rituals, clothing and ornamentation, houses and villages, and the crafts of jewelry, textile and basket-making.

Lao Hill Tribes: Traditions and Patterns of Existence.
Stephen Mansfield. Oxford University Press, New York. 91 pages, 21 color plates, 24 b/w photos. This small book provides an introduction to the Mon-Khmer, Sino-Tibetan and Tibeto-Burmese speaking hilltribe people of remote Laos. This publication focuses on tribal life and customs, with a few pages dedicated to textiles.

Textiles of Southeast Asia: Tradition, Trade and Transformation.
Robyn Maxwell. Australian National Gallery, 2003. 432 pages, 580 color and b/w photos. This comprehensive volume surveys all the major textile traditions found throughout Southeast Asia. Rather than offering country-by-country coverage, it focuses on the dynamic interplay between indigenous traditions and external cultural forces. It illustrates fine textiles, and includes archival photos that show the textiles in use.

The Yao: The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Jess G. Pourret. Art Media Resources, Chicago, 2002. 277 pages. 637 color photos. This book covers all aspects of the Yao agricultural society, including their numerous migrations, work, dwellings, religious paintings and artifacts, manuscripts, textiles and jewelry. A superb condensation of the arts and wares that define a remarkable cultural group.

Lan Na Textiles: Yuan Lue Lao.
Songsak Prangwathanakim and Patricia Cheesman (Naenna). Studio Naenna Co., Chiang Mai, Thailand, 1996. 108 pages, many color photos. This book covers the ancient textile traditions of Lan Na in northern Thailand and Laos, describing textile techniques, natural dyeing, and the types of textiles woven, and how these designs and processes reflect the origins, history, social relationships and way of life in the traditional village. Text is in both Japanese and English.

Through the Thread of Time: Southeast Asian Textiles. The James H.W. Thompson Foundation Symposium Papers.
Ed., Jane Puranananda. Bangkok, 2004. 181 pages, 330 color and b/w photos. Academic contributions by twelve specialists cover such diverse textile topics as Shan court dress, the origins of Khmer textiles, and Cham weaving. Textiles from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are included.

Ethnic Groups of Laos, Volumes 1-4.
Joachim Schliesinger. White Lotos Press, Bangkok, 2003. 1228 pages with over 700 color photos. This exhaustive 4-volume set describes the history, costumes and crafts, design of houses and villages, agricultural economy, society and religious practices of each of 91 different ethnic groups, organized by language type.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
Printed by Tran Phu Printing Company, Ho Chi Minh City, 1998. 123 pages , over 100 color photos. Beautiful collection of photos of the art of the hilltribe people of Vietnam, with a brief description of the major ethnic groups.

The Great Family of Ethnic Groups in Vietnam (Dai Gia Dinh Cac Dan Toc Viet Nam).
Nha Xuat Ban Giao Duc (Publishers). 2006. 136 pages with nearly 600 color photos. Superb photographs with detailed description of the art and traditions of 54 of Vietnam’s minority ethnic groups.

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