Thursday, December 23, 2010
Aware of the tailoring and craft skills of the members of “Flower H’mong”, (Che Cu Nha commune, Mu Cang Chai district in the northwest mountainous province of Yen Bai) Craft Link, a Vietnamese NGO, is helping to preserve these traditional techniques and to present them beyond their village market.
Craft Link not only provides training for H’mong women in group management, design and product development, but also acts as a link to introduce their products to markets throughout Vietnam.
The clothes made by Flower Hmong are mainly distinguished by their use of deep indigo and brown. The decorative patterns are ornate, delicate and harmoniously combine batik motifs, intricate stripes and sophisticated appliquéd dots.
The H’mong women of Che Cu Nha are highly skilled in batik art. They have also mastered the unique of dyeing different shades of indigo. The embroidery and batik motifs from this area have a special cultural significance.
Mu Cang Chai is mostly known as one of the most beautiful tourist destinations. The unique terraced fields have put Mu Cang Chai – one of the poorest districts of the country – on the map so to speak. But most tourists simply enjoy the views and continue on their journey.
Life here is hard. People live mainly on agriculture, with rice as their main food. Some also grow maize, soybeans, vegetables, cardamom and raise poultry and cattle.
The local H’mong community retains its unique cultural identity. Most people here still wear traditional costumes. Not only women and men, but also little children wear traditional clothes and hats which are made of hemp and richly embroidered. Nowadays, they use shiny black industrial cotton, but still keep the traditional decorative style and form.
As a not-for-profit organisation, Craft Link has cooperated with other organisations, such as CARE, the UN’s Drug Control Programme and Oxfam Hong Kong, to carry out poverty alleviation programmes throughout Vietnam. It also holds exhibitions and bazaars to display ethnic minorities’ crafts and culture.
Craft Link has also collaborated with Vietnamese institutions such as the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology to document and revive traditional crafts. The Craft Link Association of Craft Producers is comprised of more than 60 production groups, most of which belong to ethnic minorities.