All of us at Fiber College are proud to announce that we will be hosting the Mlabri Weavers as guests this year. Representing their tiny tribe in Northern Thailand, two women and their translator will be demonstrating the weaving of their carrying bags beginning with the raw vines collected from trees, processed with the simplest tools, woven in a knot-like structure and finally dyed with natural plants.
Recently at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, this is the information that was printed from their flyer:
The Endangered Mlabri People of Northern Thailand
The Mlabri people call themselves Mlabri which means people
of the forest.
To the outside world, they are often known as People of the
Yellow Leaf or even Spirits of the Yellow
Leaf. In days gone by, these shy forest
people were called spirits because they were so elusive.
The Mlabri object to being called spirits and assert that
they are people, not ghosts.
The Yellow Leaf appellation comes from the Mlabri
custom of building shelters with roofs made from wild
banana leaves. When the leaves turned yellow, the
Mlabri would move on.
The Mlabri language is unique and sounds like falling
water, but soon the language may never be heard
Less than 450 Mlabri people survive
today, making them one of the most imperiled people in
the world. Most live in two settlements in northern Thailand.
They still do some forest gathering, but without access to
traditional forest land and with no farmland, the Mlabri
are being marginalized and exploited. To
bring in enough money just for food, the
Mlabri increasingly have to perform day
labor for neighboring farmers.
The Mlabri have preserved some of their traditional crafts
such as baskets and knit bags.