What do the patterns on H’Mong’s brocade stand for? | Sapa homestay tours
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Once taking a Sapa tour, you would not stand yourself from falling in love with the exquisite natural settings of the soaring mountains of the Northwest and the innocence and hospitality of the local ethnic people. Even when the world is developing fast and people become more mature, the ethnic people in Sapa in particular and Northwest Vietnam in general still well preserve their rusticity and their long tradition. Do not feel strange if you catch the image of the locals on the colorful weaved brocade costumes walking down the streets. It is a valuable cultural beauty of the ethnic people that is closely tied to their daily life. Let’s take Sapa homestay tours to learn more about this special fabric and take a deeper approach to the norms and cultures of the local tribal people.
Sapa is home to different ethnic groups, each of which has their own traditional clothes with distinguished designs. This article will offer you a brief view of the costumes of H’Mong people – the largest ethnic group inhabiting in this dreamy land.
What is brocade?
Brocade is a kind of highly decorative fabrics woven by shuttle. Shuttle weaving is a traditional method of making fabrics in many regions in the world like China, Italy, Mayas ever since the Middle Ages. By passing the shuttle forth and back by hand, the weaver makes up colorful fabrics with impressive ornamental patterns.
In Vietnam, brocade is popular with ethnic people. Each of the ethnic groups in Vietnam, especially in the Northwest and the Central Highlands, has their distinctive brocade costumes, from which we can differentiate one from the others. Brocade costume is tied closely to the life of the ethnic people, from daily activities to important occasions. That’s why it is considered a must-explore part of a Sapa culture tour.
The meaning of H’Mong brocade
H’Mong people, who account for the largest population in Sapa, pay scrupulous attention to their clothes. The H’Mong brocade dresses are not simply clothes to cover the body but they also meet aesthetical needs.
Taking Sapa homestay tours to observe the clothes of H’Mong people, the pattern and ornamental decoration on H’Mong brocade are color-based. It is the perfect combination of hot colors with the red color as the center, creating an impressive feeling. Instead of caring much about the motifs, the patterns on their costumes are the combination of colors and the changes in materials (fabrics, embroidery, and beeswax details). Therefore, H’Mong fabrics look distinctly different from those of other groups in Sapa.
Regarding patterns, there are many kinds of patterns on H’Mong clothes like geometric patterns, realistic patterns, human figures, flower patterns, etc. As H’Mong people live mostly in the highlands, the patterns on their fabrics demonstrate the image of nature and the daily scenes, including plants, animals, and objects. When observing the clothes, you might think the patterns are simply the geometric items but in fact, it might stand for thunder, cloud, dragon, flowers, etc. Those things are familiar factors that are tied to their cultures as well as their daily life. The rustic yet valuable culture of these ethnic people is undoubtedly a must-experience thing for your Sapa homestay tours.
Attention also needs to be paid to the color of the patterns, which indicates the aesthetics, psychology, and dreams of the ethnic H’mong people. The wise arrangement of different bright and dark colors highlights the patterns on their clothes, especially when seeing from far away or amidst the mountains. H’Mong people in Sapa set black as the main color, while in Bac Ha, red is the main one. As H’Mong people inhabit the high mountainous areas where there are lots of fog and low temperature, these stripes and patterns also stand for happiness, warmth, and their hopes for a better life.
Hundreds to thousands of years have passed with lots of ups and down, and the H’mong people in different regions have developed their distinctive culture. Still, they well preserve their cultural identity, which we can easily see through their beautiful brocades. Even when people try to make it look more and more visually appealing, the hidden meanings still remain.
Aside from getting to know more about the cultural beauty of the local ethnic people, do not forget to buy a colorful brocade for yourself. Putting on this costume, you will look more “local-like”. It’s also a way to get the most “authentic” experiences in your tours to Sapa.
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