Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vietnamese Fabrics

I will confess to loving textiles. Wherever I go, I tend to bring back examples of local weaving. This can be a curse, because traditionally woven fabrics have a tendency to be heavy, and then one doesn't do much with them when one gets home. I once travelled days to a little village in central Thailand because a friend's mother was a weaver, and I would get to see her in action. I did, and I bought some exquisite pieces from her...but they have disappeared somewhere in the intervening years.
The best examples of Vietnamese weaving come from the Hill Tribe districts in the Central and Northern provinces. They are quite sturdy and heavy, but the materials themselves are usually of poor quality - colours run easily if washed, and threads pull and come unraveled at even the slightest use.
That said, I still adore their wonderful colours, and our house is generously be-draped with some wonderful large pieces I have brought back from my adventures.
There used to be some wonderful shops in the Pham Ngu Lao district of Ho Chi Minh City that sold Hill Tribe fabrics at quite a reasonable price, but they seem to have disappeared. There are one or two little boutiques left in Saigon that deal in the fabrics, but they are considerably more expensive than they used to be.
In fact, earlier this year I found it quite difficult to find traditional fabrics at all in any of the large cities. Like anything, I suppose that fashions in souvenirs come and go, and it would seem that traditional weaving is well and truly forgotten. Makes me wish I had bought more over the years.

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