awei is a beach paradise with its own traditional culture and living style.  Among them, Dawei Traditional longyi is a valuable cultural heritage for locals and an unisex attire which is sewn in a cylindrical shape. The longyi has different patterns and designs specially crafted for men and women. In ancient times, men wore longyi in longer lengths (called Taungshay Paso) with thick jackets and women wore brocade longyi with padomma jackets having two layers. In recent times, the fashion trend has changed and wearing styles are innovated with traditional cultures and western styles. Today, men simply wear white cloth sewn and red or white cloth with modern longyi and women wear fitted blouse worn with women pattern longyi in Dawei. 

Dawei Lady wearing Traditional longyi (Photo Credit: Nan Shae Thu)

Beginning of Men wearing Dawei Longyi

Dawei Traditional longyi weaving started  over 100 years ago. At that time, almost all houses of Dawei possessed small hand weaving looms (Gyaphkuts which are placed on a cotton reel on the height and people sit on the floor for weaving). Local people weaved clothes for their own wearing and produced short-width extra square fabrics to be sold. If they wanted to wear a longyi, they must have combined two short-width square fabrics. This became an original design of Dawei Traditional longyi. Local people only produced men-wear longyi (previously called Paso). The design of Longyi was a cross hatching design with silk fabric. It was a heavy load, strong and based on plain colours but it was bright. 

 Dawei Men Longyi (Photo Credit: Dawei Popular)

Beginning of  Women Wearing Longyi 

After World War 1, (approximately in the 1920s), wooden weaving looms appeared and local people produced longer width square fabrics. The square fabrics became thin due to the production of wooden weaving looms, and weaving enterprises were established in Dawei. Locals produced longer width square fabrics, and longyi was not required to combine two square fabrics. In 1970, Yaungni Oo weaving cooperation teams supported raw materials of silk and weaving techniques. Since then, local production of weaving has been growing. Weaving enterprises also increased in rural areas of Dawei. During this period, female sarong or women's Htameins richly embroidered two colours of white alternative and dark alternative. 'Ma Longyi' means "women's wear longyi" which added on Dawei men's wear longyi design and these became Dawei women's wear longyi.


Women longyi designs (Photo Credit: Nan Shae Thu)

Process of weaving Dawei Longyi 

Before weaving, people first soak the raw silk fabric in water. Secondly, the soaked silk was placed under the sun for three days. Afterwards, locals dyed the desired colour combinations of silk and then dried it. Then, they made the cotton reel ready for weaving. During the weaving process, people must draw rope with their hands and press their feet on a treadle. At the same time, the cotton reel moves from right to left to become a patternful and tidy design in the  longyi.

Making cotton reel (Photo Credit: Sam the Man) 

People weave 5 to 8 yards of the same Longyi design during the processing. The length of a Longyi is 2 yards, and it takes a day to complete the process. This is not easy, and it requires the weavers' patience and skills. However, there is a difference between using machine weaving and hand weaving. Dawei Traditional longyi has different designs which are cross hatching of initial design (Kyu Htayan), floral patterns, cane ball (ChinLone), bamboo wall, arrow line and intricate wave (Yay Hlaing).The price of machine weaving Dawei Longyi is between 9,000 MMK and 15,000 MMK which is based on the quality of silk and length of Longyi. The traditional longyis are suitable for tropical weather.

Weaving of Dawei Longyi (Photo Credit: Sam The Man)

When do locals wear Dawei Longyi?

In Dawei, local people wear traditional longyi in many festivals, ceremonial and special occasions. The famous festivals of Thadingyut, Tazaungdaing and Thingyan, most dance performers wear traditional dress in Dawei. There are many traditional dances in Dawei. Among them, the dancers who perform the water pots dance are wearing Dawei Traditional costumes. This is a unique custom. The residents of Dawei are mostly Buddhists and religious festivals are usually held throughout the year. During Thadingyut and Tazaungdaing (October and November), locals are giving  donations in monasteries. At this time, most people wear traditional longyi during the many ceremonies. Some offices in Dawei use Dawei Longyi as a uniform. In Dawei, there are also other special occasions wearers such as wedding ceremonies to wear the Longyi. Nowadays, locals use Dawei Longyi patterns in longyi suits, western skirts, shoes and bags.

Bag with Dawei Longyi Design (Photo Credit: Nan Shae Thu)

Where can you buy traditional longyi in Dawei?

You can buy traditional longyi in many places including markets, shopping centres, clothing stores and souvenir shops in Dawei. I will mention some stores and shops which have multiple designs, different colours and have handmade weaving longyi. These shops are Dawei Popular, Maharsan, Nan Shae Thu and Mali Ngapi souvenir shops. You can shop here, try on Dawei Traditional longyi and buy it for yourself or to take them home as a gift.

Most of the handmade weaving factories are located in the Waekyut quarter of Dawei. The oldest weaving factory is also located in Waekyut quarter and it has existed for over 100 years ago. They inherited weaving skills from their ancestors. You can visit the factory and you will see how the women work in the weaving factory by joining a tour service in Dawei. You can study the different designs of Dawei Longyi and will know why the handmade products are more valuable than other Longyi. You can also buy handmade Longyi with a more appropriate price here. Sometimes,  travellers said that ‘Dawei traditional longyi looks like other ethnics and regional weaves of Burmese longyi of Yaw longyi and Inle longyi’.

Handmade weaving Longyi (Photo Credit: Nan Shae Thu)

Dawei is one of the ethnic groups in Myanmar and it has their own traditional cultures and lifestyles. When locals talk about Dawei, they don’t forget about Dawei traditional longyi. Nowadays, most outsiders also know Dawei longyi and it is already famous among local people. So, if you love local traditional products, you can support handmade Dawei traditional longyi by promoting handmade products and our beloved traditional cultures of Dawei.

September 26, 2022