Be warned the 'silk' often found in the night market is not woven by hand by the child's grandmother as she earnestly tells you. Chinese machine made imports are generally what is sold at the night market and the tourist villages up the Mekong, hence the low price. They still are pretty pieces and can make a charming souvenier or gift however there is no comparison in quality if indeed it is even silk.
To purchase true hand woven silks you must pay considerably more and I recommend searching out a reputable co-operative like Ock Pop Tok. Founded in 2000 by an English weaver/photographer working with development agencies and the Laos Womens Union to provide sustainable employment this is one place where you will find the real thing!
Why the name Ock Pop Tok? It is Lao for East meets West. Joanna Smith met Veomanee Duangdala in 1999 at a night class in Luang Prabang. Veo was from the prominent silk weaving village Ban Xieng Leck and had been taught to weave when she was just seven years old, she taught Joanna the skill.
From this friendship came the idea to open a gallery which now has expanded to include the
Living Crafts Centre on the banks of the Mekong with a recently opened villa guest house.
Here you will find ancient and contemporary silk designs woven to perfection. There are also works in the ancient craft of batik and some fun handicrafts.
. Currently this work takes place in 7 provinces.