Spirits in the Loom: Religion and Design in Lao-Tai Textiles is the first study of Lao-Tai textiles to focus specifically on the relation between the figural designs of the textiles and their religious meaning and use. Based primarily on interviews with weavers and shamans from Hua Phan province, Laos, this study highlights the layered meanings of design elements and their roles in providing protection and power both in everyday life and in ritual performance. Using rich data from shamans’ narratives about their trance experiences, the author provides first-hand insight into how shamanic visions shape the visual appearance of a ritual textile. In addition to 347 black and white photographs, this book presents 235 color plates.
Ellison Findly is Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. Trained in Indological Studies, she has published books on Mughal India, the practice of donation in early Indian Buddhism, women and Buddhism, and the philosophy of plants in India. She is currently at work on a complementary study to this volume, Tending the Spirits: Shamanic Experience in Northeastern Laos, which will focus on the training, personal spirits, and trance experience of the Lao-Tai shamans drawn, again, on interviews at four research sites with shamans who self-identify as Tai Daeng.