The Silk industry of Inle

Inle Lake. the largest and most famous natural inland lake in Myanmar. lies like a beautiful. glistening jewel encircled by the blue mountain ranges of the Shan Plateau. Inle Lake. which is located in the southeast of the Shan State at an elevation of 2900 feet above sea level. is home to the “Innthas” meaning literally “the natives of Inle Lake”.

The Inthas. who mostly live on the waters of the lake with houses built on stilts from the day they are born. are naturally skilled boatmen and boatwomen. but with one outstanding difference. They row and steer their skiffs and boats not with the hands but with one leg wrapped around long oars. This is their traditional method of propelling their boats. which have been handed down through the generations. The Inthas who are simple. honest and friendly folks. are a strong. rugged and diligent race gifted with a spirit of creativity.

They are thus especially talented in many arts and crafts and the reason why the products of their weaving industry. goldsmith. silversmith and blacksmith cottage industries have earned renown both at home and abroad.

The silks that the Inle weaving industry produce are outstanding for their quality in both material. and colours and designs.

It is most fascinating to watch the entire process of Inle silk production in the weaving sheds. from the primary stage of bleaching the silk threads through dyeing them. spinning the threads. affixing them to the loom and to the final stage of weaving the finished product.

The skill and deftness as well as patience of the young Inle girls who weave and fashion the gorgeous silk fabric from a multitude of tiny thin threads is truly marvelous. Because of the beautiful designs take shape only by aligning each silken thread with great precision. it takes about three days to weave the required length for one longyi. that is. the traditional straight skirt for the both masculine feminine wear.

The men’s wear is usually of checkered design. The ladies’ wear comes in a host of shimmering colours with gorgeous floral designs. Nowadays it is possible to buy a stole of the same pattern and colour for formal wear. Some Inle silks also have gold or silver thread woven into the silk fabric. The charm and beauty of the finished product exemplifies the innovative spirit of the people of Inle.

The charm and beauty of the finished product exemplifies the innovative spirit of the people of Inle. That’s why. if one should try on the Inle silk with its dazzling colours and attractive designs for the first time. them maybe…

One will hear the rhythmic and harmonious clacking of the looms that will bring to mind the unforgettable scenic beauty of the Inle region.




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