When I arrived in Canada from Myanmar, also known as Burma, I wasn’t able to bring many things with me. But one of the few things I brought was a traditional hand woven Kachin skirt, made by my grandmother.
I never got a chance to meet my grandmother because she died while I was still very young. However, from my mother, I learned that my grandmother was very strong minded, had good character and was very quick with her hands. She was very skilled at making these garments, carefully designing the colours and patterns.
This knowledge was passed down to my mother, but I unfortunately did not get a chance to learn from her.
So, for me, this skirt is not just a simple skirt to wear. But it represents the creative intelligence behind the women making these skirts. There is a beauty in its intricate patterns, materials and colours. In a way, it also represents power.
I also have a picture that I brought. It is a black and white photograph, taken in the town where my family lived. In those days, it was very rare to have one’s picture taken. But, my father, the chieftain of the village, somehow convinced a photographer to make the long journey up the mountain to take our family’s picture.
This photograph and skirt are both precious treasures to me and I will leave this with my daughter with much pride.