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Vietnam's Chau Giang village is renowned for its brocade weaving.

Top Destination in Vietnam

By Đăng Khoa ĐỗPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
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Vietnam's Chau Giang village is renowned for its brocade weaving.
Photo by Sergio Gonzalez on Unsplash

Chau Giang brocade weaving village is located in Cham village, within Chau Phong commune in Tan Chau town, Vietnam. Visitors from various places can appreciate the village's architecture, savor Cham ethnic dishes, and explore the cultural significance of brocade weaving. This traditional craft has been practiced by the Tan Chau Cham people for generations. The Cham community in Chau Phong commune resides primarily in three hamlets: Phom Xoai, Chau Giang, and Hoa Long. With a population of over 4,500 individuals, all members of the community adhere to Islam. Brocade weaving holds a special place in the cultural heritage of the Cham people in Tan Chau, serving as a vital element in preserving their unique traditions. Upon settling in Tan Chau, the Cham people brought their weaving expertise, considering it a precious inheritance.

The traditional weaving craft of the Cham people, specifically the brocade weaving practiced by the Cham community in Phum Xoai, Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town, An Giang province, has a long history dating back to the early 19th century. In the past, nearly every Cham household owned a loom, making weaving a crucial skill for Cham women. Girls as young as 10 to 12 years old were taught the basics of weaving. At its peak, hundreds of families were involved in brocade weaving, but today, only Mr. Mohamad's workshop remains. Mr. Mohamad, the current owner of the traditional Cham brocade weaving facility in Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town, shared that the craft has been passed down through three generations in his family. He learned the art from his parents and now continues to preserve and promote it by offering tours for visitors to witness the brocade weaving process firsthand.

The Cham people's brocade weaving items are commonly seen in everyday life, including women's clothing like skirts, shirts, and headscarves, as well as men's sarongs in various colors and patterns. These patterns can include water waves, cloud designs, squares, stripes, lanterns, and strawberry flowers. Occasionally, new and beautiful patterns from other sources are incorporated and blended with traditional designs to add vibrancy and novelty to the products. Nevertheless, traditional elements persist in the items, maintaining the cultural identity of the Chau Phong people's brocade weaving. These products reflect the softness and elegance of Cham culture, along with a touch of sophistication in color combinations, layout, weaving techniques, and patterns.

The leader of Phum Soai hamlet in Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town mentioned that in recent years, the brocade craft village has enhanced its product promotion through travel companies and governmental support. With an emphasis on items like sarongs, brocade shirts, bath scarves, and fabrics, there has been an increase in awareness among the general public. This has led to a more diverse and advanced product line, resulting in increased purchases. The village's recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage brings honor and joy to the ethnic community. It is expected that the craft village will expand further, leading to a more prosperous and fulfilling life for its residents.

The Cham people have a unique method for brocade weaving. Unlike Ikat or sarong weaving, brocade weaving requires alternating between background and pattern weaves. It typically takes them around three days to complete threading a loom. They have various options for go, such as go 12, 13, 14, and so on. For go 18, zinc is not utilized, and instead, they use thread typically used for weaving silk to create thicker fabrics, resulting in a higher price.

The number of hemming frames varies based on the specific pattern being woven. For instance, weaving brocade with a mulberry pattern requires 12 hemming frames, while a chain link pattern needs 10, and hammock weaving requires 9. When working with delicate silk thread, the thread's thinness makes it prone to breakage. To combat this, the Cham people opt for a thread comb over a zinc comb, as it aids in tightening the thread. This results in a more intricately designed and smoothly finished product. By utilizing hand-weaving techniques and dyeing silk fibers with natural ingredients, the resulting products boast long-lasting, vibrant colors with unique characteristics distinct from silk products found elsewhere in Vietnam. Mr. Mohamad explains that creating a scarf or brocade fabric involves six main stages: preparing raw fibers by soaking them in water to soften, dyeing them, drying, spinning, warping, and weaving - with particular emphasis on the complexity of the warping process requiring knowledge of yarn quantities, colors, sizes, and lengths.

The number of hemming frames varies based on the specific pattern being woven. For instance, weaving brocade with a mulberry pattern requires 12 hemming frames, while a chain link pattern needs 10, and hammock weaving requires 9. When working with delicate silk thread, the thread's thinness makes it prone to breakage. To combat this, the Cham people opt for a thread comb over a zinc comb, as it aids in tightening the thread. This results in a more intricately designed and smoothly finished product. By utilizing hand-weaving techniques and dyeing silk fibers with natural ingredients, the resulting products boast long-lasting, vibrant colors with unique characteristics distinct from silk products found elsewhere in Vietnam. Mr. Mohamad explains that creating a scarf or brocade fabric involves six main stages: preparing raw fibers by soaking them in water to soften, dyeing them, drying, spinning, warping, and weaving - with particular emphasis on the complexity of the warping process requiring knowledge of yarn quantities, colors, sizes, and lengths.Visitors to Mr. Mohamad's Cham brocade weaving facility will experience a blend of tradition and modernity, as well as the warmth and hospitality of the Cham ethnic community. The site offers opportunities to observe and learn about traditional brocade weaving, try on traditional Cham attire, and explore intricately crafted jewelry items like bracelets, necklaces, earrings, wallets, and bags. Ms. Salyha of Phum Soai hamlet, Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town expressed her excitement and pride at being recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. She hopes to showcase Cham weaving skills to a wider audience, both locally and internationally, encouraging Cham women to innovate and create beautiful products for global appreciation.

In 2000, Mr. Mohamad founded a traditional brocade weaving center in Cham Chau Phong village. He organized workers to weave on-site or at their homes. The finished items are showcased and sold at the facility, as well as exported. Besides catering to traditional customers, including tourists from both near and far, Mr. Mohamad's weaving center also secures a 50% upfront payment from buyers for essential materials like yarn and accessories. This, along with additional funds accumulated within the family, ensures a steady production output for their business. The brocade products are exhibited at significant local events, fairs, and tourism promotion activities. Notably, Mr. Mohamad participated twice in the national festival celebrating Vietnamese brocade weaving in Dak Nong in 2019 and 2020.

When greeting visitors, Mr. Mohamad not only presents the products but also showcases the history of the craft village, the cultural values, and the way of life of the Cham ethnic community in An Giang. This innovative approach has played a significant role in drawing an increasing number of tourists to the craft village. On March 6, 2023, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism issued Decision No. 480/QD-BVHTTDL, officially recognizing brocade weaving of the Cham people in Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town, An Giang province as a national intangible cultural heritage. This recognition is a source of honor and pride for the Cham community in An Giang. "Once acknowledged, we anticipate the expansion of Cham brocade weaving products within our province, motivating us to create even more exquisite designs to present to future customers," shared Uncle Mohamad, the proprietor of the traditional Cham brocade weaving facility in Chau Phong commune, Tan Chau town.

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