The Burmese crafts of cotton and silk weaving have a long tradition and the country has long been renowned especially for the fineness and intricacy of its silk weaving. However, there is something that sets a special group of Burmese weavers apart from the rest of the world’s weavers. You want to know what this is? Follow me in the world of Burmese silk and cotton weaving and I will tell you.
Silk is one of the oldest textile fibres and according to Chinese tradition was used as long ago as the 27th century B.C. The silkworm moth – belonging to the order of ‘Lepidoptera’ and the domesticated silkworm that makes up the family of ‘Bombycidea’- were originally a native of China and for more than 30 centuries the gathering, spinning and weaving of silk was a secret process known only to Chinese. China successfully guarded the secret until 300 A.D. when first Japan and later India penetrated the secret.
The art of silk spinning and weaving was invented and developed in China and only later it spread to neighbouring countries such as Burma and other parts of the world. Tradition credits Emperor Huang Ti’s 14 year old bride, ‘Hsi-Ling-Shi’ with the discovery of the potential of the silkworm caterpillar’s cocoon and the development of the revolutionary technique of reeling silk for the use of weaving.
The fibre ‘silk’ is valuable for the use in fine fabrics and textiles and is produced as a cocoon covering by the silkworm – which in fact is not a worm but a caterpillar – for its transformation into the silkworm moth. The silkworm is not the only fibre producing insect but it is only the cocoons of the mulberry silk moth ‘Bombyx mori’ and a few close akin that are used for silk weaving as the silkworm/caterpillar produces the finest quality of silk.
Silkworms possess a pair of specially modified salivary glands (sericteries), which they use for the production of their cocoons. The silk glands secrete a clear, viscous fluid that is forced through openings (spinnerets) on the mouthpart of the larvae and hardens quickly into a very thin fibre when coming in contact with air. The length of the individual fibre composing the cocoon varies from 1.000 to 3.000 feet (305 to 915 metres) what makes the silk fibre the by far finest and longest natural fibre. Silk is also the strongest of all natural fibres. In order to produce 2.2 lb/1 kg raw silk about 5.500 cocoons are required.
To manufacture silk suitable for the use of weaving it is necessary to kill the silkworm inside of the cocoon. Traditionally, this is done by boiling the cocoons. The often given explanation for the non-existence of Burmese silk – silk used for the purpose of weaving in Burma is imported mainly from China and Thailand – is that Burmese refrain from killing the silkworms because they are what they call ‘true’ Buddhists,
Weaving is a method of creating fabric by interlacing two wets of yarn threads called the ‘warp’ and the ‘weft’. While the ‘warp’ threads form the base for weaving – they are arranged parallel to one another and held in tension by a loom – the ‘weft’ is a single thread that is inserted and passed at right angles over and under the warp threads in a systematic way to create a solid or patterned piece of cloth. Weaving is originally done on a hand loom and tribal weavers continue to create their colourful fabrics – both cotton and silk – in this traditional way but most commercial producers weave their textiles by semi-automated or fully automated processes.
As stated previously, the art and craft of weaving has a long tradition and is a strong industry in Burma. Throughout the country, from the mountainous border regions in the north and east, the coastal regions in the south and west to the central dry plain and the areas in-between the looms are busy. Weaving is an art that many country girls learn from their mothers and other female relatives. Because both men and women across the country are wearing hand and automaton-woven traditional textiles and foreign interest in Burmese textiles is increasing weaving is practiced widely.
Many differences in colours, designs, styles, techniques and additional features such as embroideries do not only serve as decoration but are also indicative to the places and regions the textiles are originated from. They add an element of belongingness and racial or tribal identity to those producing and wearing them. For others they do simply constitute a fashionable option.
Some of the most distinctive and easily recognizable fabrics known as ‘A-Cheik’ are woven in Amarapura (Mandalay area). Other very distinctive fabrics known as ‘Inle Lunghi’ or ‘Zim Mei’ are coming from the Inlay Lake region.
Weaving is present-day Amarapura’s main source of income. Amarapura, once known as the ‘City of Immortality’, capital of the Burmese kingdom and seat of the ‘Konbaung dynasty’ from 1783 A.D. to 1859/60 A.D. is located some 11 kilometres/7 miles south of Mandalay. Here, were every second house is said to have at least one loom is, among others, Burma’s most festive and beautiful clothing, the ceremonial ‘longyi’, ‘A-Cheik’ htamain (for woman) and ‘A-Cheick’ pasoe (for men), woven from silk. ‘A-Cheicks’ are textiles that are easily recognisable by their intricate weaving-patterns that make up their highly attractive and complicated designs. The silk and cotton weavers from Amarapura are famous throughout Burma. Their colourful high-quality textiles/clothes in many different designs and colour sets both traditional and modern are in strong demand and to be had everywhere in the country.
Another centre of Burma’s weaving industry is the Inlay Lake. The fabrics produced here too are often from silk. The technique employed by the Inlay weavers is an age-old one, called ‘Ikat’. Usually, the threads are dyed before the weaving process in that they are bound tightly together and immersed into a dyeing bath for each colour individually. However, the Inlay cloth is made in a slightly different way. Whereas the usual way of dyeing is to dye the threads individually, i.e. each one has a separate colour, the ‘Intha’s’ way to dye the threads is to paint the colours on the threads. The advantage of this technique is that it does not require a retying of the threads of each individual colour used.
As for the weaving process itself it is almost a mission impossible to have the threads perfectly match the woven pattern, what results in somewhat ‘blurred’ edges of the motifs. In other words, the motifs are not sharply separated from their background or motifs bordering on them. This effect of ‘soft’ edges is the distinguishing feature of the Inlay fabrics, which are very bright in colour and gay in motif.
However, there is something that sets a special group of Inlay weavers apart from the rest of the world’s weavers. And this distinguishing feature is neither a special design, pattern, technique of dyeing or weaving nor is it a special colour, colour combination or the kind of clothes they are weaving. It is nothing of these things but a unique material. A material that is unique in both origin and method of spinning of the threads/yarn. It is ‘Lotus silk’, made of the delicate fibres of the lotus flower stem.
The story of this unique material and the ‘Padonmar’ lotus stem fibre weaving began in 1914 with Daw Sar Oo (Miss Sparrow Egg). She was a young lay woman in the small village of Kyain Khan, located at the Inlay Lake in Shan State. Her wish was to present to the Abbot of the local ‘Golden Peacock Feather Monastery’ something very special and unprecedented. A wish she had developed based on the ‘Zi-natta Pakar Thani’, according to which Prince Siddhartha was upon leaving the palace to start to live his life as aesthetic monk offered a monk’s robe by a Brahma (celestial being) who had found it in a lotus blossom.
When observing the long and very fine filaments that were trailing from the cut ends of lotus stems after she had plugged the large-petal lotus blossom from them – as it is usually done in order to offer them at pagodas, etc. – she saw herself getting close to her being able to fulfil this unusual and very special wish of hers.
In the following some words of explanation concerning the topic ‘Lotus’ in general as the only thing that people do mostly associate with the term ‘Lotus’ is simply a rather unspecified flower with yellow, pink or white blossoms that is growing in freshwater lakes and ponds. But this is not exactly all and the only thing that is inherent in and expressed by the term ‘Lotus’. Here are some information for the botanists among you.
‘Lotus’ is the common name of a genus of plants of the ‘legume’ family and for several unrelated genera. The genus ‘Lotus’ belongs to the subfamily ‘Papilionoidea’ of the family ‘Fabaceae’ (formerly ‘Leguminosea’). The ‘Jujube’ suggested being the legendary lotus tree is classified as ‘Ziziphus lotus’ of the family ‘Rhamnaceae’, the nettle tree as ‘Celtis australis’ of the family ‘Ulmaceae’ and the dessert shrub as ‘Nitraria tridentata’ of the family ‘Zygophyllaceae’. The unrelated genus of the water lily family ‘Nymphaeaceae’ is ‘Nelumbo’. The sacred lotus of the Buddhism is classified as ‘Nelumbo nucifera’ and the American lotus as ‘Nelumbo lutea’. The representative water lily genus is ‘Nymphaea’ of the family ‘Nymphaeaceae’. While the Egyptian lotus is classified as ‘Nymphaea caerulea’, the Egyptian water lily is classified as ‘Nymphaea lotuses. The lotus flower species growing in the Inlay Lake is said to be ‘Nelumbium speciosum’, called ‘Padonmar Kyar’, red lotus, in Burma.
Being a practical woman and trained in the art and craft of weaving Daw Sar Oo immediately formed the idea of weaving a set of monk’s robes from this extraordinary material and present it to the Abbot she was devoted to.
Upon having had this idea she was facing the problem of how to transform the very soft and fine fibres of the lotus flower stem into durable yarn for the use of weaving. She entered into a series of experiments the results of which were very disappointing. But, finally, she succeeded in spinning strands of sufficient thickness from the extremely fine threads of the lotus stems, which was a feat in itself.
The ‘harvesting’ of lotus stems takes place during the monsoon months Nayon/June, Waso/July, Wagaung/August and Thawthalin/September. This is the best time for the gathering of the lotus stems as in this rainy season the Inlay Lake’s water level is at its highest mark, thus the stems of the lotus longest and the filaments best. During dry season the stems are much shorter and the fibres are less abundant due to the lower water level of the lake. The best fibres are those from the dark-pink lotus and it requires some 150.000 lotus stems to manufacture one set of a regular monk’s robe.
Prior to the ‘harvesting-time’ the spirits of the Inlay Lake are put into a good mood by ritual offerings of pop-rice, incense, flowers and saying of prayers. Then the harvesting of the lotus stems that must be transformed into yarn within three days after being plugged begins.
Lotus flowers are because of their beauty, shape, size and colours often compared with roses and are in some languages – German, for instance – called (in literal translation) See Rose’, ‘Lake Rose’. And just like the thorny rose stem the lotus stem too has a thorny and very strong surface, which must in the first step be separated from the soft core of the stems. Then the stems are cut approx. 4 inches/10 centimetres from the root-end and are given uniform lengths.
In the next step bundles of some 5 stems are taken into one hand and with a blade in the other hand the stems are cut half through about 2 inches/5 centimetres from their top. The blade is lied out of hand and the top pieces are broken away from the stems. What is now left is a silk-like, sticky filament that is drawn out on a wet table surface.
These are afterwards rolled on a plane surface by hand into fine threads after being given a quick turn of the wrist before being rolled into thicker and longer threads by adding another batch of strands at the end of the respective strand by rolling the sticky fibres together until they have reached the lengths wished for. This process is repeated till the stems are used up. Then the next bundle is taken into the hand and everything is starting all over again.
The fibres are then dried, washed, starched, stretched and manually spun into yarn before being rolled on bobbins.
Finally, the lotus threads are woven and the fabric is then either left in its natural state or dyed into the red or yellow of the monk robes or e.g. gray for other pieces of textiles. The very first one of all of these monk robes was woven by Daw Sar Oo back in 1914.
Upon having presented this truly unique set of monk’s robe to her much venerated Abbot, he changed her name into Daw Kyar Oo (Miss Lotus egg) as a sign of his gratefulness and in appreciation of her wonderful achievement. The ‘lotus-silk’ fabric is rather coarse but pleasant on the skin and has the properties of silk, keeping the body warm when the weather is cold and cool when it is hot.
This unique material is spun and woven only in Kyain Khan Village at Inlay Lake in southern Shan State and nowhere else in the world to be had. Nowadays, scarves, blouses and other pieces of clothing are woven for mainly tourists. Sure, these items wear quite a hefty price tack but the money is well spent for you get something really unique that not only looks good but also has an interesting story to tell.
Weaving time is from June to January and while in the past only monk robes were woven from this rare, precious and relatively expensive material to dress venerated monks and Buddha Images, nowadays also shawls, blouses and shirts are available to tourists. Meanwhile these articles are also exported. The most likely not insignificant income from the sales of lotus fibre articles had a rejuvenating effect on this traditional art.
But the lotus fibre weaving tradition is still endangered as there is only one family of lotus weavers left to perpetuate this unique form of weaving and many of the lotus weavers are quite old. Since Daw (Sar) Kyar Oo had no descendents she passed on her knowledge to the grand children of a friend’s family.
Daw Ohn Kyi’s family – the last family left to preserve the tradition – has founded a cooperative in 2004 that serves the purpose of conveying the knowledge and skills needed to help the lotus weaving tradition to survive to a new generation of lotus fibre weavers.
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program
Direct Sales Agents
Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.
Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.
Colleges and Universities
Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.
Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.
Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.
Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions
There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.
The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.
Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.
The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?
Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.
Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.
Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon
First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.
Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:
- 2006 – Prices hit the Top
- 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
- 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
- 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
- 2020 – Prices hit the Top
- 2020 to? – Prices Decline
*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.
The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.
Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound
Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.
Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.
Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.
To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.
Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care
If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.
However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.
Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.
This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”
Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price
This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”
However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.
Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.
Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.
Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price
Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.
Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.
During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.
The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.
Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission
Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction
Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.
For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.
The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.
Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.
In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.
By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.
Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer
Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:
1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers
If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.
2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer
It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.
3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part
Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?
4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer
It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.
5) Brand is important
Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider
If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer
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