There are many artistic avenues through which the Vietnamese express themselves such as silk painting, theatre, and wood carving. Below are explanations of the origins and development of a few key textiles and techniques. Vietnam textiles are beautiful.
Vietnam textiles have been amazing for centuries, Vietnam has been silk weaving and creating beautiful embroidery. During feudal times silk was thought of as a great luxury, only worn by kings, queens and mandarins. Through out history and its dynasties, Vietnam has always had rules concerning colour, ornamentation, style and fabric of clothes worn by aristocrats. The clothes of those in power featured the royal symbols of dragons, phoenixes and tortoises.
Vietnam’s best silk is called ‘Ha Dong’ silk and comes from of Ha Tay, southwest of Hanoi in the Red River Delta. It is believed that the art of silk weaving originated here some 2,000 years ago. However it was between the 16th 18th centuries when this region’s silk industry flourished. Today, techniques and quality have changed but there are many villages that always have and still do produce silk, for example La Ca.
To produce silk, the first stage is the weaving of the cloth to make every thread uniformly in line to ensure a smooth and soft fabric. It is then soaked, washed, dried, kept with forest resin, dyed, and sun dried twice. The resin is extracted at different points of the season for different colours. This chemical free process creates beautifully shiny and durable silk.
All over Vietnam, its people use embroidery as a form of cultural expression. It was introduced into the northprovinces of Vietnam during the 17th century from China, when originally silk embroidery only used five thread colours – yellow, red, green, violet and blue.
However embroidery is thought to have existed in the village of Van Lam for seven centuries. More than 75% of the population is skilled in the embroidery with lace, due to teachings being passed down through generations. Their work varies from the size of a hand to large wall hangings. Tribes like the Hmong and Dao also use their own unique intricate embroidery and braiding styles to embellish their clothing. The Hmong also use beautiful batik designs to decorate their clothing.
Applique is used by the Hmong to set apart and identify particular tribes, but was first developed as a way of story telling. Now it has developed into an art form for many communities. This ancient technique involves sewing on fabric shapes by hand to produce decorative patterns and shapes.
If you’d like to find out more about these techniques and get involved in the culture, Colouricious are running a textile trip to Vietnam in November 2015. If you would like to find out more, do not hesitate to visit our website or contact us below.