Silk weaving in Vietnam is spread all over the country but one of the most illustrious traditional regions for silk weaving is located in the north-west of Ha Dong town. Van Phuc silk has inspired poetry, folk songs and it is the pride of Vietnamese.
According to legend, silk weaving in Van Phuc existed since the IXth centry, taught by progenitor La Thi Nga - a Hung Vuong descendant. Since then, the rhythmic clatter of shuttle driven across looms has become as familiar to Van Phuc villagers as their respiration.
The talented hands of Van Phuc weavers with traditional skills have created many sophisticated types of silk such as the cloud type, the sand type, crepe, brocade and satin,... which are highly appreciated by local and overseas customers. It is hard to describe the skillfulness and master strokes of the weavers as well as the beauty of Van Phuc brocade and silk. but mention should be made that the brocade is made from a special type of raw silk which is soft, burnished and durable. The cloud type is the most well known because it is as thin, soft and beautiful as a cloud. The embroidered brocade is thicker than the cloud type and has different designs such as butterfly, rose, daisy, crane, cloud, Chinese characters of “Longevity” of different colors which attract all classes of society, especially the upper class. In the past, Van Phuc silk used to be a precious merchandise to export to other countries in the region and to some European countries (China, Japan, Korea, through Van Ninh (Quang Ninh) seaport from the XIth to the 13th century, and through Pho Hien (Hung Yen) and Hoi An from the 18th to the 19th century). In particular, Van Phuc silk was exhibited at Marseille and Paris (France) in 1931-1936 and 1937; the Government of France awarded the title: “Village Notable of the ninth grade” to 6 artisans who produced the displayed silk at the exhibitions.
In a famous song, there is a passage: “When you wear cloth made of Ha Dong silk, you will make me feel fresh and cooling down the burning sunshine of Sai Gon”. A long time ago, silk threads were created with different types of silk, chiffon, cloud and embellished with the same characteristic of softness, thinness & ability to hang down; the outer thread created the raw tussore (wild silk). Nowadays, there are huge improvements in silk production, all kinds of threads are utilized, silk can be made by spinning 2 threads, 3 threads, 6 threads or even 12 threads to create more than 30 types with different thinness, thickness, softness and glitter... The softest silks used to make evening dresses are made from a normal single thread. The most expensive ones are those made by spinning 12-16 threads, usually to make suits which look hard but feel soft. There is a wide range of products made of silk such as ties, skirts, clothes, scarves, clogs, handbags, purses,... which are nice indispensable souvenirs for tourists coming to Vietnam.
Visiting Van Phuc today, we feel the atmosphere of a handicraft village on the move. We can hear the familiar clatter of the shuttle driving melody, we can see villagers spinning under the moonlight, we can see multicolor silk streams being dried under the sunshine. Products of Van Phuc have a typical traditional value which is considered as a symbol of traditional beauty. The weavers are passing their sentiments and dreams onto every meter of glossy silk.