Situated on the bank of Nhue River, about 10km southwest of Hanoi Old Quarter, Van Phuc silk village is renowned for its traditional weaving and premium quality silk products. At the age of more than 1,200 years, Van Phucis proud to be the most ancient silk village which provides the best silk in Vietnam.
The main road is surrounded by greenery and ponds, and colourful bolts of silk drying on the road. In fact, the village’s fine silk, commonly known as Ha Dong Silk, has inspired many poets and composers to write about its beauty.
The village is busy with activity and one can hear the sound of the newer power-looms in every home. The days of working strenuously with traditional, manual looms are gone, and the village's weavers each operate three large power-looms with a small electric motor.
For a long period of time, silk was considered as extremely precious handwork which was only used to tailor Royal members' and aristocrats’ dress. What is special is that the silk is made by very simple looms, which is the genuinely traditional Vietnamese way of making silk.
In the past, middle-aged men usually wore traditional the costumes, which were dyed in dark colours, when going out or receiving guests. The is a kind of silk, loosely woven to be light and breathable. For the fussier gent, the with vignettes of brick-walls or water-ferns were worn on special days and to festivals.
Often, a sa, xuyen or bang covered the the. Sa is very thin silk woven from glossy thread, which shimmers in the daylight. Xuyen is similar but sparser, and for each silk row woven, one is missed. Bang looks like cobweb. Sa, xuyen and bang were worn to highlight the undergarment.
On cold days, people wear nhieu, which is made by spinning several silk rows into thick heavy cloth, making the nhieu warm. Nhieu are lined by ky cau, a flower silk. Nai and dui, made with unpolished silk, were sturdy for labouring countryside women.
Linh were woven with lengthy threads that are thicker across than standard, making its surface look shiny. Women would wear linh for Tet and festivals. Doan was made like linh but thicker, and doan were mostly made for men.
For a period of time, Vietnamese silk production was abandoned; people liked newer textiles, which did not demand careful care like silk. But in recent years, Vietnamese designers have brought silk back to their gentle and glossy ao dai collections.