As we traveled throughout Vietnam, we didn't miss the stunning work resulting from hand sewn embroidery done mostly by young women of Vietnam. The art is ancient and probably was acquired from the Chinese who refer to it as Suzhou or "Su" embroidery. This technique dates back 2,000 years (yes as in two thousand).
The intricate details and beauty of the designs are still produced today, using extremely fine colored silk threads (though there are also cheaper, and coarser versions, which are still beautiful) and usually center around pastoral themes, portraits, and uncluttered representations of anything you can imagine.
a typical pastoral scene in a very intricate work; some take a year or more to finish
Later in our travels, we learned that Vietnam's center for this type of art is located in Dalat. However, we stumbled upon an impressive array of finely spun silk thread embroiders just as we were finishing lunch at the Thuy Dong Restaurant which has a view of the beach. The short video that follows will give you an idea of the intricacy of the work; the finished work is stunning, and the threads are almost invisible.
If you find yourself in Nha Trang, head over to the XQ Arts and Crafts Trade Center, and there will be more than your eyes can take in. The setting itself is right out of a fairy tale book. As you enter, you can hear the sound of water gurgling in a small, but serene lily pond. Facing the main entrance is a display which looks like a four poster bed, but where silk strands, white and dyed, hang from the top beams. Have a look:
I sat on the benches which are seen in the background, and
was served some tea; can it get more idyllic than that?
To complete the fairy tale environment, three Vietnamese young women, dressed in the traditional Ao Dai, were sharing a quiet moment on a bamboo suspended wooden swing, hung over a bed of small gray pebbles.
The main gallery is replete with works of all sizes, subjects, and prices. The sales personnel is courteous, but not overbearing as salespeople can become. I had asked one of them if they would allow me to enter the work area, so that I could watch these artists at work. I promised to be quiet as a mouse, and they agreed.
The room is quite large and well lit; as I watched the women's hands sew, I worried about their eyesight. How can such tedious, meticulous work be produced without hurting the eyes? Some of the pieces are so large and intricate that several women share the work; when they saw me enter, they stopped out of curiosity and beamed when I told them I was from America. If that is surprising, I urge you to visit Vietnam. It is not what you think.
It is impossible to walk away from this place without purchasing something. In the event you don't want to carry your treasures with you, they will ship anywhere in the world, and they are very good at packaging the items so that they do not become damaged.
Below are a few of my favorites, but there were so many more it would be impossible to include all.
64 Tran Phu Street
Nha Trang, Vietnam
How the art came to Vietnam:
Embroidery was founded and developed in Vietnam by Le Cong Hanh in 1606.
Traditionally, the art was carried out by women as dictated by ancestors in the following verse:
Men read books and declare poems.Women have to do embroidery and sewing
During the Nguyen reign, it was established as an art of the Royal Court. The Hue artists were reputed for their sweetness, subtlety, carefulness, elegance and artistic qualities. The themes they embrace are of everyday life in Vietnam and have moved away from the Chinese culture of dragons and similar subjects.