When you decide to visit Indochina, it’s important that you can tell the traditional costumes of these three countries apart. People in Vietnam wear the elegant “ao dai”. Cambodian may confuse you with many different variations of the impressive “sampot” they wear. Meanwhile, Laos traditional costumes are “sinh” and “salong”, the pieces of clothing that showcase the extraordinary weaving skill of Lao people and the country’s precious traditional values.
Back in the day, Lao people wear the kinds of garments that weren’t dyed nor have any patterns on. Accessories are also simple and crude. Nowadays, Lao “sinh” has changed a lot with elaborate embroidery patterns on it and also dyed in many different colors. All of that requires a skillful hand and a unique weaving art that is passed down from generations to generations.
Lao people know how to weave from a very young age because weaving skill is considered important for a woman if she wants to show her artfulness and eligibility for marriage. In order to produce beautiful pieces of garment, Lao people have to raise silkworms with mulberry leaves before weaving. In the north, silk is woven on hand looms. In the south, it is woven on foot looms. The weaving technique and patterns woven on the silk are also different across Laos. For example, the weaving products of the South are famous for complicated patterns of Khmer-influenced designs and intricate beadwork while northeast people are known for using raw silk and cotton to make “sinh” and “salong”. Each piece of traditional clothing is truly a work of art that showcases the skillfulness of Lao people and an important part of their culture.
Sinh – Laos National Costume for Female
“Sinh” means “clothes” in English and is the traditional costume of Lao women in the form of a silk tube skirt. If you have been to Thailand or Cambodia, you will notice the similarity of their traditional clothing, which is understandable because they are neighboring countries.
In rural areas, Lao women wear simple sinh with little decorations in their daily life because it’s easier for them to work in the field or do some daily activities. However, during important Lao ceremonies, women will coil their hair, wear colorful clothes, and use a lot of accessories to look more gorgeous and formal. The traditional set of sinh often consists of three parts including a sinh, a suea pat, and a pha biang. The kinds of sinh worn in special events are intricately decorated and have three part namely Hua sinh (the waistband), Phuen sinh (the body), and Tin sinh (the hem). A suae pat is a long-sleeved shirt with no buttons and two panels which are tied together by a string. Pha biang is a piece of garment that resembles a shawl used by both men and women. It is about a foot wide and you wear it by draping it around the chest, covering one shoulder and let its end hang loose on the back.
Salong – Laos National Costume for Male
Salong is the traditional costume of Lao men. Unlike sinh – the complicated traditional dress of Lao women, salong are big pants dyed in various colors. People often wear salong with a shirt, white knee-length socks, and a pha biang. Lao men also wear “yao” or “hang” which is a wraparound skirt with two ends twisted together in the front, pulled between the legs, and secured in the back. However, yao or hang is somewhat of a luxury because it is very hard to make and also requires makers to work with heavy plied silk and intricate embroidery patterns for months. Salong is often worn in special occasions, ceremonies, and in some contests.
The Traditional Costumes of Laos Ethnic Group
Laos is a multi-ethnic country with a rich history and culture. Each ethnic group has its own customs and clothing to showcase the different sense of art and the depth of its tradition. As a result, traditional costumes of Lao people are very diverse and vary from different ethnic group to another. Among which, Tai – Kadai Linguistic Group and Austroasiatic Linguistic Groups are the most outstanding.
You can take a closer look at the impressive traditional clothes of Laos if you decide to visit this beautiful country. Don’t forget to pick a set of Lao sinh for yourself and others as a meaningful gift from your Indochina tour package!