Streets of Vietnam
Vietnamese Traditional Silk Embroidery
At first glance they look like paintings, but a closer look reveals them to be embroidered canvasses, delicately conceived pictures hand-worked in silk, a traditional Vietnamese handicraft, one of many that the government is promoting. As well as the government workshops, recently there have sprung up commercial establishments, in cities and towns like Hoi An, Dalat and Hue City.
The Embroidery is Usually Done by ChildrenUsually the children (for they are mostly children or girls and boys in early teens) work from a postcard or a drawing which is propped up before them. To the side are hanks of multi-coloured silk threads, ten or more shades of pink, ten or more of blue and maybe fifteen of golden yellows, violets, whites, browns, ochre and black.
The creation of one of these embroidered pictures needs good eyesight, a steady hand and a concentration that is seldom seen in European or American children. The needle goes in and out with precision as the embroiderer looks from the canvas on which (s)he is working, to the picture, and back again. Instinctively, the embroiderer seems to know which shades will blend into the scene being worked. The back of the picture is as neat as the front.
Picures are Taken From Rural ScenesCertain popular pictures are always in demand and these can be done from memory, pictures of flamingoes, river fishing scenes and the rice field with bullock. These are worked in a variety of sizes, from miniature to very large, up to two metres tall and equally wide.
Traditionally, the pictures are scenes of Vietnam rural life, and in its original form the silk embroidery utilized only five colours, red, yellow, green, violet and blue. But around the middle of the 19th century, the art of Vietnamese embroidery became very popular at the court in Hue, a popularity that increased during the French colonial period. The craft was given a new lease of life when the wives of the French officials took an interest and it was then that more colour was introduced.