Effort to restore sample of old silk

July 4, 2008

Effort to restore sample of old silk

Nhan Dan- Over 70 Trieu Van Mao has spent time restoring old silk samples of Van Phuc village, Ha Dong City.

Van Mao learnt the craft of silk weaving when he was only 7-8 years of age from his parents. Growing up, he worked as an engineering worker and then joined the army.

The long-lasting war hindered the development of silk weaving. Returning home from the army, seeing the villagers breaking the looms down for other purposes, Van Mao felt deep regret. He visited every villager to ask for the pieces of old silk as he thought that one day, such old silk samples could be restored. When having any sample of old silk, he spent time restoring it, together with the co-operation of other elderly people in the village.

In 1994, Trinh Bach, from Van Phuc silk weaving village came home from the US along with a project to restore Nguyen Dynasty court dress. Old man Van Mao had spent six years restoring four Nguyen Dynasty court dresses which were on display at Hue Festival in 2000.

According to old man Van Mao, in the past, silk was totally handmade and it was a painstaking job. Nowadays, old man Van Mao and his villagers combine both handmade and machine methods to make various silk samples, meeting domestic and export demands. However, many kinds of silk with old decoration are still handmade.

Old man Van Mao’s workshop is considered a treasure of the silk weaving craft where keeps a 100 year old ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long dress) made from silk with sophisticated decorations and even a 250 year old silk sample which were found by archaeologists in the tombs in Hung Yen northern province.

Old man Van Mao not only collects old silk samples of his village, but also asks the Institute of Archaeology to collect for him other kinds of old silk of different ethnic minority groups nationwide. He has succeeded in weaving decorated flax fabric of the Mong ethnic people in Lao Cai. In particular he himself has designed a machine to shred flax tree bark for fibre weaving and the soft part inside the trees are used as material to grow mushrooms. He has enjoyed the project very much as it not only helps restore the flax weaving craft but also help people in the mountainous areas reduce hunger and poverty.

Old man Van Mao said “not many people know how much a weaver has learned to have enough experience to make silk. A silkworm’s life is short but it is able to spin valuable silk products though the weaver’s hands. Therefore, I will try my best to restore and preserve the quintessence of old silk weaving.”

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