Visitor wearing the costume of Pa Then ethnic minority.
Looking at Vietnamese women’s costumes, one can discover distinctive cultural characteristics of various ethnic groups, that have shaped up the cultural identity of Vietnam. Apart from their use and aesthetic values, they are also considered messages helping research into the development process of every culture and every ethnicity.
Inhabiting in Vietnam are 54 fraternal ethnicities with their respective long-lasting weaving traditions. Each ethnicity has its own costumes which are closely associated to life. Looking at them one can identify the wearers’ ethnicity and residence too. They not only reflect the socio-economic development but also customs, life styles and culture. Every part of the costume, from the headscarf, waistband to the brassiere or skirt, constitutes a part of the ethnic characters that have been developed and preserved for a long time.
It takes women a lot of time and efforts to have a complete outfit. They haveto undergo many steps, such as weaving, tailoring, sewing, embroidering, dying and patterning. It is the style and decorative patterns and motifs that constitute the unique beauty of each dress and each ethnic group has its own taste when patterning its costumes. Besides depicting lively the living environment, love for nature and homeland, the designs on costumes help evaluate the skilfulness and talent of women.
While Ao dai (the traditional long dress) of the Kinh women represents the beauty of the Vietnamese women in general, the distinctive beauty of other ethnic groups is revealed through their own diverse costumes.
The Thai women’s clothing is well-known for its style with a short vest that is highlighted by a line of silver buttons, long black skirts, scarves and ornaments.
In contrast, the Muong women attach great importance to decorating their clothing. Especially the skirt is enhanced by a very large silk belt embroidered with various motifs, such as flowers, figures, dragons, etc. They usually wear a white rectangular scarf, bra and short vest open at the front.
The H’Mong Hoa women’s attire looks colourful with a radiant beauty that is created by various motifs of “X” character meticulously embroidered and other patterns printed with beeswax. The H’Mong Hoa skirt has many open folds and is made from 15 to 20 metres of pleated material, which makes it ripple with their steps.
The knee-length dress, which is made open at the front without any button, is the Dao women’s attire. It is usually combined with a Dao brassiere which is carefully embroidered with red, yellow and white patterns on the indigo or black background.
The Lu women’s attire is of high aesthetic value with colourful hues on the black background that help highlight the healthy beauty of wearers.
In the Pa Then women’s costume, the scarlet is the overwhelming colour, which, according to their belief, is the colour of fire and light.
The healthy beauty of the ethnic minority women in the Central Highlands is highlighted by the black and radiant dresses.
The women’s costumes make a contribution to constituting part of Vietnam’s diversified and lively cultural picture which is characterized by the cultural features of 54 fraternal ethnicities.
Vietnam Pictorial - (22/09/2005)