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Asian art

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'Phaa tuum' (shoulder-wrap blanket) with stylised pattern

early 20th century


Unknown Artist


The 'Tai Neua' are a sub-group of the Tai language family. The Tai live in a broad region stretching from Eastern India to Southwestern China and Northern Vietnam. Before the easy availability of printed cotton, Lao-Tai women produced all the textiles for the home, including mattresses, pillows, clothing, and decorative pieces. The blankets are made of at least two pieces of fabric separately woven on a back-strap loom (instead of using a wooden frame, the loom is held taut by a strap that passes around the weaver’s back). Blankets are necessary as the nights can be cold in the highlands of Laos.

This blanket is composed of two pieces of fabric joined together. The warp yarns are white, but the ends had purplish-red dye applied prior to weaving, a process called zone dyeing. The warps were then tied to the loom, and the body of the textile was woven with white weft threads. The dark diamond and lattice pattern on the main section of the phaa tuum is woven with supplementary threads across the entire textile (continuous supplementary weft). The end panel was woven with red weft threads. The decorative band displays birds and stylised floral patterns produced with multi-coloured discontinuous supplementary weft yarns that do not stretch across the entire textile.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2011


Other Title

'Pha hom'

Place where the work was made

Sam Nuea Laos

Cultural origin

Tai Nuea people


early 20th century

Media category


Materials used

silk, natural dyes; continuous and discontinuous supplementary weft decoration, zone dyeing


80.0 x 198.0 cm


Gift of Nomadic Rug Traders 2003


Not on display

Accession number