I had the honor of living with the remote high altitude rainforest tribe, the Karen Hill Tribe, of Northern Thailand when I volunteered with Elephant Nature Park‘s Journey To Freedom project, bringing the endangered Asian elephant back to the wild, where it belongs. The Karen live mainly without running water and without electricity. And if that’s not enough to make any USAmerican pop another anti-anxiety prescription, get this – they make their own clothes. I don’t mean they sew their designs. I mean they grow the cotton plant, the dye it with rainforest berries, barks and roots, they spin it into thread and then weave it into the stunning clothing pictured below. The colors, the designs, the seed pods used as decor. I was told that when the women wear these items they created, they are seen as ultimately beautiful. There is social praise for this artisan work and I certainly can see why.
The photography below is in honor of the Karen Hill Tribe’s textiles, photographed by Marti Matulis in the Angeles Crest. Retouched by Stephen Newell. Breathtaking.
You can watch the Karen Hill Tribe mother spinning and working the thread here: