GreenHeart Foundation

Mae Mai

Cotton Artisan

Mae Mai (Mae means “mother” in Lao) is an expert ikat weaver in Lahanam, but unlike many other weavers, Mae Mai’s favorite part of Ikat making is setting up the warp. The gentle walking back and forth is almost mediative and she prefers it to the weaving which requires her to sit for long periods.

Mae Mai learned how to make indigo dye and use it to dye cotton yarn into different shades of blue when she was 15. Now, this 54-year-old mother of four is a valuable resource for her community and she loves passing her skills on to the younger generation.

Making indigo dye is an ancient art and is steeped in myths. Menstruating women are kept away from the indigo jars for fear of upsetting the “Indigo spirit” and rendering the dye useless.