In Sin Chai village of Bat Xat commune, Lao Cai province, there is an Ethnic group of White Hmong living together with Dao, Giay people. Located in terrace land where the climate is very harsh, Hmong people here live mainly on agriculture and grow one rice crop a year. They also grow other crops (maize, sweet potato, cassava…) and a variety of vegetables, and practice animal husbandry such as raising horse, cow, and buffalo, chicken, which are not only for their own consumption but for sale as well. They earn some extra income by collecting cardamom from the forest but the recent problem is that land for growing cardamom is becoming exhausted rapidly. Though Sin Chai has a school with classes up to grade 5, most adults are still illiterate, especially Hmong women, they can neither read, speak, nor understand Vietnamese.
Traditionally, The White Hmong women of Sin Chai, Bat Xat wear pleated skirt in plain white hemp (Sung family) or with batik and indigo dying (Vang family), short jacket with decorative embroidered collar and belts. Nowadays, while most of other ethnic minorities in Vietnam simplify or drop their traditional clothes, the Hmong women in Sin Chai village still use their traditional costumes which are even more decorative than before. They use more embroidery for sleeves and skirts, as well as for belts. They also use ribbons, zig zag and beaded strings with coins at the end to decorate their jackets. This is a special aspect of the White Hmong women in Sin Chai: Now they are even more skillful and spend more time on embroidery and sewing than before. They continue to wear traditional Hmong costumes on Tet holidays, on weddings and on other special festivals.
The difference in traditional costumes of Hmong Bat Xat among other Hmong groups is the reverse appliqué technique which requires special skill and patience. Most of their appliqué motifs are in spiral shape (Cu in Hmong language) formed by combination of several colorful fabric layers on black background.
In 2009, realizing the special potential of White Hmong group in Sin Chai village, Craft Link and Ucodep (an Italian NGO) initiated a handicraft project to support the Hmong women here. The project is aimed at reviving traditional culture of Hmong people in Sin Chai and helping them to earn more income from handicraft production.
For more information about this project, please contact:
Ad: 51 Van Mieu Str., Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (8424) 3733 6101