Our afternoon was spent in and around the village on stilts viewing local workshops. I found it very interesting and it was amazing how hard the people worked probably doing the same crafts that their ancestors did. Our guide gave us informative explanations of each workshop we visited.
The Cigar Rolling Ladies
After we ate lunch, we went downstairs and discovered a room filled with young women and teenage girls sitting cross-legged rolling cigars and cheroots. Our guide mentioned that they roll about 500 cigars a day. Many of the cigars are flavored with blends of dried banana, pineapple, star anise, honey and other ingredients with very little tobacco is in the mixture.
Boat Building By a Local Craftsman
Our next stop was a house where boats were being built. The work area was on the lower level and the craftsman was busy at work. Not sure if this was just for tourists or if the boats were actually completed here. There were some wooden items for sale but priced high for the tourist.
Weaving Center – Using Silk, Lotus, and Cotton
We stopped at this weaving center where silk and lotus threads are woven into scarves, shawls, and cloth. It was a fascinating process of watching how they extracted the threads from the lotus stems. The porous fibers are twisted and rolled together with water and then spun again and washed again. The original color is a lovely earth tone. Most of the colors of the products are created from natural items – flower petals, leaves, and fruit.
We left the weaving center and I certainly had a new appreciation for the weaving artisans of Inle Lake. A square meter of this fabric requires at least 20,000 lotus stems and takes skilled workers 40 days to produce. A one-meter scarf made of lotus threads is worth about $450 and as high as $750. Needless to say, I did not leave Inle Lake with a scarf made of hand-spun lotus threads.