Ethical Fashion doesn't have to be boring

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Kachin People

Kachin State is Burma's northernmost province, and it is crowned by the country's highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi, which stands at the edge of the Himalyas and towers to a height of 5,889 meters (19,321 ft). A trip to Hkakabo Razi is only possible with a state-appointed guide, and it takes visitors weeks on foot, along virtually untrodden paths and through thick jungle. Then they catch their first glimpse of the snow-covered foothills of the Himalayas.

Hkakabo Razi

The Jingpho or Kachin people are a South East Asian ethnic group who inhabit the Kachin Hills in northern Burma's Kachin State. They occupy a large and fertile territory rich in natural resources including one of the most exclusive forms of jade in the world. These resources are coveted by the ruling government and this sadly has made the Kachin targets of violence and displacement for many years.

Different ethnic sub-groups belong to the Kachin tribe including the Jinghpaw, Maru, Lashi, Atsi. These are linguistic rather than national distinctions. Each groups dress is colorful but the individual tribes clothing is distinctive and their dialects also differ. 

The Kachin textiles are woven on backstrap looms and have predominantly geometric patterns. The women’s skirts are usually comprised of three narrow bands and these wrap skirts can take months to weave. When learning to weave, the woman first masters the “mother pattern” which runs in supplementary weft down each vertical end of the finished cloth. The patterns vary between sub groups.

For contemporary Kachin people these textiles remain a visible symbol of their cultural identity and history.

Photo credit

As a Kachin person, I believe that cultural heritage is one of the most valuable things we have. As a community struggling in the midst of political instability and uncertainty, culture offers a constructive tool for building Kachin identity. Even such a regular routine such as weaving clothing at home can be considered an important form of heritage and culture
*Gumring: a member of the Kachin ethnic community of Burma. 

Siamese Dream Design is thrilled to welcome these beautiful hand woven fabrics to our textile collection.

Womens t strap sandals in Kachin textiles
Women's t-strap sandals in Kachin textiles

 Vegan women's sandals in Kachin textiles
Women's t-strap sandals in Kachin textiles