We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


'Phaa tuum' (shoulder wrap blanket) with diamond pattern

20th century


Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Sam Nuea Laos
    Cultural origin
    Tai Nuea people
    20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    cotton, natural indigo dye; continuous supplementary weft weaving
    188.9 x 93.0 cm (irreg.)
    Gift of John Yu, in memory of George Soutter 2012. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program.
    Not on display
    Accession number
  • About

    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 backstrap 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 a 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, star, and 'kuut' (fern) 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 figures, birds, and stylised floral and geometric patterns produced with multi-coloured discontinuous supplementary weft yarns that do not stretch across the entire textile.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, February 2012.