Sunflowers on the lake
Located close to the north-western banks of Inle Lake, Sunflowers Organic Dye Weaving Studio is the brain child of girl-genius Ma Phyu Ei Thein. Starting her first business back in 2004, Ma Phyu specialises in creating a range of “Myanmar made” woven products made from lotus, silk and cotton. These items are then coloured using dyes from fruit, roots, flowers and other organic substances. Almost ten years later and with the aim of expansion, Ma Phyu opened up in the River Arrewaddy Gallery on 35th Street before moving again to Sanchaung Township (north-central Yangon) in 2015.
Now that her products are starting to find their way into multiple store shopfronts, including some in Japan and New York, Ma Phyu has opened up a second location in one of the country’s most beautiful and most popular tourist locations. The aim of this is to further enhance and diversify the region’s existing industry, whilst providing secure jobs and training to those looking to start a career in one of Myanmar’s most respected traditional industries.
Although the set-up inside the workshop is simple, a stop here will provide a great opportunity to learn more about this important national trade, from weaving through to dyeing and production. Thanks to it being relatively unknown, it currently does not receive as many visitors as other weaving workshops. This, combined with the workshop’s airy and shaded interior makes it the perfect place to stop and have a chin-wag with the ladies as they skilfully work away on their traditional wooden looms.
Best of all, the products on display, besides being made entirely from organic materials, are great value and all thoughtfully designed. We’re not talking about your typically mass produced tourist tat here, every item has been individually handmade and you would be hard-pressed to find anything else in Myanmar that rivals the exceptional quality.
Conveniently located in-between Red Mountain Vineyard and Inle Princess Resort, Sunflowers Organic Weaving Studio makes an extremely worthwhile stop for anyone looking to learn more about organic weaving, or those keen to purchase meaningful souvenirs without excessive “tourist tax” applied.