Hand-woven textiles were a pre-existing skill amongst Shan women and other ethnic minorities in the region. What the local women lacked was good-quality raw material and equipment, experts to teach them new techniques and designs, and access to markets. The Project capitalised on local wisdom to bring added income to the workers. This group of workers includes women aged between 20 and 65; the older people are normally assigned to lighter work such as bobbin spinning. The younger women are left to deal with the more demanding task of weaving and rug-weaving. Most young girls found jobs in the sewing unit, thanks to their good eye sight and the ability to handle modern machines. Natural yarn makes the bulk of the raw materials; meanwhile modern specialists were brought in to give advice on colours and weaving techniques. Thick hand-woven cotton is interwoven with reed, elephant grass, hemp fibres and jute. These are used in hand-woven fabrics and hand-woven rugs for interior decoration. The final product is more intricate, unique, and specialised than any machine-woven product.
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