The Dao have a long tradition of costume production, they are famous for their cotton, indigo weaving, dying, tailoring and embroidering. Dao women guarantee every stitch that goes into making these clothes.The Dao plant their cotton in good plots, plots that are new to being planted on. The cotton plant begins around Jan-Feb to avoid the foggy weather and big rain storms.
From plant to harvest, the plots must be frequently weeded. The cottons is picked be and put out to dry. The cover is pulled off, and all the leaves and away. During times that the fields are vacant, time is spent separating the cotton blossom from the seed. Following that, the cotton is carded. The cotton is about the size of a finger joint after carding, it is pulled into thread.
Before the thread is mounted on the loom , it must be boiled. It is turned, sequentially, into a handful, and then it is soaked in cool water. Following that, the thread boiled again, this time in rice broth with ti dang root added in. The loom is commonly seen in Dao communities; the looms are 1.73 meters wide, 0.77 long, and 1.25 high.
Loom accessories include:
- The structure which holds the pieces of the loom together.
- The axis’s which has thread on a part and material at the other end. 1
- The heedless includes: the main heddle called; weaving heddle, and two assisting heedless, called thread splitters. The sub—splinders (heddles) are fixed to (crankshaft), moving arms above. Below are two foot pedals which are also attached to the crankshaft. When the whole system is working, it creates sort of a rhythm motion. When weaving the pedals are pressed, the crankshaft and subsequently, the heddles move; the thread is manipulated and joined together. The sub- heddles connect and join two individual threads and the two main heddles actually weave.
- The weaver’s shuttle: The loom has one main shuttle land two sub-shuttles. The shuttles are necessary to weave color. The main shuttle is 49cm long and 4cm wide. With shuttles, boats can be embroidered on. The material has holes large enough for small thread to be weaved through. Sub—spindles are made of bamboo stakes. The ends of the hollow bamboo stakes are whittled to a point to ease feeding color thread into them.
Furthermore, a part of the loom like the thread splitter is 36cm long. It is used to split thread and the colored thread.
Material is weaved with foot-power to split the thread and hand—power to control the spindles; the main heddle is virtually mauled in all the commotion. Weaving with such power limitations, one can only produce 12-16cm square of material and that’s all.