What are Phaa Sabai Healing Cloths?
Healing cloths, or in Lao “phaa sabai,” are – and here I quote from www.hilltribeart.com – “used by both shaman and ordinary people, and use a combination of color and design for their powerful healing protection. These hand-woven, naturally-dyed silk shawls, usually woven with a bright-red background, have complex supplemental weft details woven on either end of the cloth, with a center area of a single, undecorated color… Healing cloths are used in healing ceremonies, and are also used in ceremony to foster a healthy future for the village or crops. They may be worn by the healer, or the ill person, or even laid in the garden depending on the unique traditions of that village and the type of healing that is being sought. Each ethnic group, sub-group, valley, and even individual villages often have unique styles of weaving and ritual to express their spiritual lives and needs; even individual weavers have input as to a healing cloths’ design elements and color.”
Phaa sabai take up to two months to weave, not including the time spent raising, harvesting, processing and dying the locally-grown silk. Additional photos (in color!) of phaa sabai and some of the weavers of Ban N—– can be found on our website gallery.