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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 2:45 am 
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Location: Vietnam
The revitalisation of traditional weaving among women of various ethnic minority groups has sparked hopes that Pa Then women in Ha Giang Province will be able to follow in the footsteps of those in the Hoa Binh and Lao Cai provinces .

Ethnologists and other specialists from the National Centre for Social Science and Humanity said that, given some finance and expertise, Pa Then women have the potential to draw international attention to their meticulous hand-woven dresses, made with dyeing and weaving techniques handed down through generations.

Ngo Van Doanh from the National Centre for Social Science and Humanity said while the batik woven by the Java and Malaysian people is richer in decoration and diversity than that of the Pa Then and the Mong people, Vietnamese ethnic minorities have preserved more information on their ancient techniques of dyeing and weaving batik fabrics.

Designer culture

Ethnologists have found Pa Then brocade a rich source of information about the ethnic group’s history, language and customs, says Phan Thanh from the Education Centre for Mountainous Ethnic Minority People, at the Ministry of Education and Training.

Thanh says their decorative patterns carry not only geometrical designs but also drawings of local fauna and flora, such as the one-horn rhinoceros, elephant, boteng, wild buffalo, tiger, deer, bear and monkey; and medicinal herbs. Most of the decorative patterns are woven, not embroidered.

Pa Then women often teach their babies how to pronounce basic words by showing the children the drawings and geometrical designs on their dresses.

Another distinctive feature of Pa Then clothing is the predominant red and black hues. The aim is to make a Pa Then woman stand out from her natural surroundings.

A typical Pa Then woman’s costume includes a richly decorative short shirt with wide sleeves; a skirt with five tiered flounces, each with different decorative motifs; and a black or white waist band. As a result, their batik products have been the subject of some intensive research by Vietnamese specialists from many different disciplines.

Image Proud: A Pa Then mother and child in traditional dress

Pham Duc Duong, chairman of the Southeast Asia Research Association was positive about the potential benefits that weaving could bring to the Pa Then people, pointing to a study titled "Brocade Weaving of the Thai in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) and Yen Chau (Son La) in the Market Economy and Tourism Development in the Northwestern Mountain Region," conducted by ethnologist Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga from the Institute of Ethnology.

According to the study, almost half of the 1,000 Thai families in Mai Chau keep their hand looms intact. One of the 10 local traders, Ha Thi Hoa, has organised a group of 30 women to work on 300 looms. They each earn VND14,000 (just under US$1) a day.

The study found that tourism has given a new lease of life to the entire Thai community in Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh Province. The weaving business has become the single biggest earner of Thai people in Mai Chau, accounting for 15.4 per cent of its total income, followed by fishing, 13.3 per cent; maize growing, 10.9 per cent; rice growing, 9.6 per cent, cassava growing, 5.7 per cent; and poultry breeding, 4.8 per cent.

A trade ministry representative said that or brocade made in Sa Pa in Lao Cai Province is one of the most popular fabrics among foreign tourists. Other places famous for their brocade products include Lac hamlet in Hoa Binh Province and several places in Ha Giang and Cao Bang provinces.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 9:08 pm 
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I am very glad that you have joined the www.tribaltextiles.info/community forum - welcome! Hope you do not mind but I have pasted into your post the photo of the Pa Then mother and baby from the article which you originally emailed to me as I am sure that forum members would enjoy it as well as the contents of the article. Thanks very much for sharing the article with us. We look forward to more posts from you in future!

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