The History of Traditional Hand Embroidery Art

  In Vietnam, embroidery is a hand craft that existed long time ago. The history of this traditional work connected closely with the spiritual history of the Vietnamese women in the past.  

 From the first century, beside the embroidered flag “Requiting country’s debt and home’s revenge” by the rising up in arms of heroine Hai Ba Trung, Vietnamese women also use embroidery in order to decorate the house, more over to show the confidence, sentiment and to beautify themselves.  

 However, until now, nobody knows when the embroidery of Vietnam was born? Who was the first person created and changed the normal sewing work to be an embroidery art?  

 There is a legend about hand embroidery in Vietnam, that is at the beginning of the 17th century, the embroidery of Vietnam had marked a turning-point of development. At that time, Mr. Le Cong Hanh (born on 18/01/1606- died on 12/06/1661) lived at Quat Dong village, Thuong Tin Dist, Ha Tay province had collected experiences and techniques of folk embroidery of Vietnam to disseminate widely the handicraft art.  

 Until the feudalism, embroidery was one of careers serving kingly and aristocratic circle. Embroidering product was made from fabrics by creation of Vietnam craftswomen. Thread used for embroidery at that time included natural dyes, such as: Tinctorial yam, Indigo, Indian almond pod, paletuvier water, leaves of phrynium, grinstone, flamboyant... Many foreigners have admired Vietnamese embroidery: “In seeing the dyes that looked simple, it was quite amazing transforming after the tinting process was completed, looks like magical.”     

 Traditionally, the embroidery had been done by Vietnamese women, according to Confucianism that girls have to acquire four virtues: “Industry, appearance, speech, behaviour”. As our ancestors often said:

“Men read books and recite poems.

Women have to do embroidery and sewing.”

   Almost women from all the country know how to embroider. However, concentration and professional character for long time started in Hue. When the Nguyen Dynasty constructed at Hue, Mrs. Hoang Thi Cuc, mother of Bao Dai King, she accompanied with Nam Phuong Queen combined the advantages of European embroidery technique with quintessence of Asian embroidery art and highlighted it to become royal embroidery art, related to charming, fine, meticulous characters of Hue women.  

 Gabrielle, a female French scholar specializing in the studying of Oriental Cultures, wrote: “In many places, people have transmitted through generations, an extraordinary art by painting in threads, making lotus flower bloom on silk, butterflies hover on blue water surface. Vietnamese embroiderers are more skillful than the Chinese in their use of sewing with the fine lines and their methods of mixing colors...”  

 Hocquard, an author had said about the embroidery at the end of 19th century: “The Vietnamese embroiderers were very clever in distributing color on silk to create the harmony on embroidered pieces without any hard contrast.”  

 The risen and fallen centuries passed by, the embroidery was up and down but it kept the national cultural character.  

 In the beginning of 1990s of the 20 century, the silk embroidered paintings of Vietnam come gradually raised up to the top of art. When XQ company established, a couple of artists Vo Van Quan and Hoang Le Xuan (born in the royal family in Hue) had drawn up a new way for this career by combining the painting art with quintessence characters of traditional embroidery art that had inherited and created.  

 Nowadays, silk hand embroidered pictures of XQ Vietnam that are connected with kind of music, poem, painting. Through by the subjects about the life – the death – hope – the hidden belief and characters of human being fate, embroidery art has created the view of our world, through by the images of musical realm and it is expressed by the national traditional art.