With no written language, the Hmong people create intricate patterns on batik textiles, and use them as story-telling devices. Batik, this wax-resist dyeing technique, has been passed down by the Hmong for generations.
On a piece of washed and beaten fabric, skillful Hmong artisans draw intricate patterns with a pencil. Afterwards, they apply hot wax on the patterns to form a dye-resist using a tool called canting, which is made of a bamboo handle with a copper pipe spout. After soaking the fabric in natural indigo and removing the wax, the dyed areas turn deep blue while the waxed areas remain in their original color, displaying a beautiful, patterned contrast.
The motifs and patterns are usually inspired by the natural environment, and the fabric of choice is traditionally hemp, a crop with minimal environmental impact. Hemp can be grown and processed without chemical treatments, but gives three times as much raw fiber as cotton. The end result is a strong and durable fabric with qualities similar to linen, widely used by the Hmong for skirts, jackets, aprons, and baby carriers.
Shop here for our batik home collection, entirely handcrafted by Hmong artisans dwelling in the mountainous Northern Thailand.
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The Nankeen dyeing technique, dating back 3,000 years, is native to China’s Jiangsu province. Known also as Lan Yin Hua Bu (蓝印花布) and Blue Calico, it’s still practiced traditionally today in a handful of small workshops. Using hand-cut paper screens, soybean paste thickened with lime, and natural indigo dye, artisans print contemporary versions of ancient patterns on locally-grown cottons and linens outside the city of Shanghai.
We have been long-time admirers of Indian woodblock printing. The intricate patterns often carry traditional cultural meanings, as well as legacy of the tribes they originally come from.