Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) via the Luang Prabang Fund for Culture and Conservation

Our Mission: To facilitate pride and investment in Laos' ethnic diversity and cultural resources by helping visitors and locals to understand and value the changing lifestyles of Laos' many ethnic groups, and providing an outlet for the development and selling of their handicrafts. Founding Principles and Information: The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is a museum in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. It is the only independent non-profit museum and resource centre in Laos dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the traditional arts and lifestyles of the country's many and diverse ethnic groups. TAEC features professional...
Apr 8, 2016

Final Report: TAEC Global Giving Campaign

Grades 4 and 5 from Pakuoneg school visit TAEC
Grades 4 and 5 from Pakuoneg school visit TAEC

Dear Friends of TAEC,

Thank you so much for your support since we started our fundraising campaign on GlobalGiving in 2012. Together you have helped us to raise nearly $10,000. These funds support our on-going activities that promote understanding of the diverse ethnic cultures in Laos.

A few highlights from the past three years include:

Education

  • Each year we visit grades 4 and 5 at public primary schools in and near Luang Prabang. Our education team visits under-resourced classrooms and shares fun activities related to the ethnic diversity found in Laos. In 2014/2015, we were able to visit 13 primary schools and reach 734 children through the support of donors.

  • We invite grades 4 and 5 to visit TAEC exhibitions. TAEC provides the exhibitions, the activities, and the transportation for kids to take a field trip to visit the museum. In 2014/2015, 730 children visited TAEC with your help.

  • In 2013 and 2015 we hosted a summer outreach programme for children. We organized several days of activities for children to learn more about the museum, ethnic groups in Laos, and experience traditions in Laos including weaving, dyeing, farming, pottery, and more!

Exhibitions

  • The Caregivers to Culture Keepers Exhibition: Stories of Women in a Changing Laos was developed from the work of community researchers. In collaboration with PhotoForward, an international media arts programme, we providing training in digital storytelling to ethnic women in Laos. The results include videos and the exhibition on display for 24 months at TAEC. To date, more than 39,600 people have seen this exhibition about the daily lives of women in Laos today.

Handicraft Development

  • TAEC works closely with over 600 ethnic artisans to promote their weaving, jewelry, embroidery and other traditional handicarft skills. Our handicraft development programme includes village visits to meet with artisans and strengthen our relationships. We organize short training and feedback sessions to discuss designs, quality, and new product ideas.

  • We have visited villages in a different part of Laos each year (2013, 2014, and 2015) and added 3 new villages to our producer network with your help

This is our final report for this project. We look forward to posting another project soon. Meanwhile, we will continue to provide education, exhibitions, and handicraft development in Laos. Please follow us on Facebook to hear more about our current activities. Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about our activities throughout the year.

Kop Chai Lai Lai! Thank you so much for your support!

Caregivers to Culture Keepers Exhibition at TAEC
Caregivers to Culture Keepers Exhibition at TAEC
Khoun visits Katu artisans in the south of Laos
Khoun visits Katu artisans in the south of Laos

Links:

Jan 12, 2016

Women and Folktales from Laos, Project Update

Singkham prepares to tell a Tai Lue folktale.
Singkham prepares to tell a Tai Lue folktale.

In 2015, in partnership with the Luang Prabang Film Festival, we undertook an exciting project to film and share folk tales from three distinct ethnic communities of northern Laos: Tai Lue, Hmong, and Kmhmu.

We recognize that traditional folktales and legends are part of an oral tradition and the stories are oftenheld in the memories of elders. Also, women are important bearers of these cultural memories, but their voices are not often heard outside of their own communities. The Women and Folktales project reached out to ethnic communities anddocumented 19 traditional stories as told by women elders.

In January 2015 the filming began in small villages in Luang Prabang province. Seven women shared their stories with us and were filmed by a team of professional filmmakers.

Most of the women storytellers, like Meh Thao Tee, learned the stories when they were children. They began telling stories years ago when their own children were born. Meh Thao Deng says she told stories to all of her children, but now the children in the village do not want to listen because there is a television for them to watch.

Some women and men who heard the stories when they were young, do not remember them to tell their own children. In the village of Ban Khok Wa, 60 year old, Meh Thao Vah Lao did not tell stories for 8 years after her son and husband died. Now, since our team asked her to tell stories, her son asks her to tell stories to him every day.

To date, 19 folk tales have been recorded, edited, translated into Lao and English, and presented at the Luang Prabang Film Festival in December 2015. Three stories, one from each community, have been made into short animations.

Our plans for 2016 include posting all 22 videos online with both Lao and English subtitles, creating DVDs for distribution to schools, showing the films at TAEC, and sharing the animations with primary school children as part of the TAEC Educational Outreach programme.

We are proud of our work on the Women and Folktales project and look forward to sharing more news with you about the availability of these stories in 2016. Thank you again for all of your support, which enables us to take on special projects like this to empower ethnic minority communities and celebrate cultural diversity in Laos.

Ton talks to Kmhmu storyteller Meh Thao Deng
Ton talks to Kmhmu storyteller Meh Thao Deng
Still from The Spider Man, a Hmong Folktale
Still from The Spider Man, a Hmong Folktale
Still from an animated Tai Lue folktale
Still from an animated Tai Lue folktale
Animated still from a Hmong story
Animated still from a Hmong story

Links:

Oct 15, 2015

Visits to Handicraft Villages in Laos

An artisan ties threads for a traditional motif.
An artisan ties threads for a traditional motif.

As part of our handicraft development programme, TAEC works closely with artisans from diverse ethnic groups who live in rural villages in Laos. We are in constant contact with them, by phone, text message, and in person! In late August, Khoun Soutthivilay, Co-Director of TAEC, and Tou Xaikongpheng, our Stock Manager, traveled south to visit some of our artisan partners in Champassak, Salavan, and Savannakhet Provinces.

Over seven days, Khoun and Tou visited four of our partner villages and two new villages to meet with  Katu, Lao, Phou Tai, and Ta Oy artisans. Did you know that TAEC represents more than 600 independent artisans who sell their products at TAEC shops?

In many communities, mothers teach their daughters traditional skills such as using natural dyes to color thread and how to weave the thread into fabric. Traditionally, these skills would benefit the family and the village community. Today while still living in their home village, artisans can sell their handicrafts for supplementary cash income. By purchasing products at a fair price and promoting them in our fair trade shops, TAEC connects ethnic artisans to the market and supports the livelihoods of rural people based on their traditional skills.

TAEC aims to visit every village we work with on a regular basis. With over 30 villages spread out across Laos and with mountainous terrain and limited road infrastructure, this can be a challenge. By visiting in person, we build our relationships and show our support to the communities. We meet new artisans who want to join with us and we can provide advice to assure high quality craftsmanship, explain customer expectations, and place special orders.

Cost of One Week of Travel = $1,126

  • Two staff members visited four partner villages in the south of Laos.
  • Costs include: transportation, accommodation, per diem, supplies, and meals.

Direct financial benefit to the villages from the August 2015 Handicraft Trip = $3,800

  • Katu villages =$2,000
  • Phou Tai village =$1,160
  • Ta Oy village = $640

TAEC also places orders throughout the year according to demand in our fair sales shops.

On this trip, Khoun and Tou also traveled to two villages we have not worked with before, Ban Saman and Ban Saphai in Champassak Province. Traveling to Ban Saman requires a 30 minute boat ride from Ban Saphai to arrive on the river island. Here Lao artisans create silk ikat fabric with traditional motifs; only a handful of weavers still know the traditional patterns. We commissioned three sample pieces and we look forward to receiving the ikat fabric the artisans have made for us. We hope to add this village to our network, to benefit the rural artisans and to introduce their traditional skills to the visitors of TAEC.

Thank you! With your help we are able to reach more communities. Follow us on Facebook to see more of our work and let us know what you think!

Ta Oy artisans share their woodcarvings.
Ta Oy artisans share their woodcarvings.
Khoun with Katu artisans using backstrap looms.
Khoun with Katu artisans using backstrap looms.
Artisans show handwoven fabrics they made to sell.
Artisans show handwoven fabrics they made to sell.

Links:

 
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