Visitors to the northern provinces of Ha Giang or Tuyen Quang will have a chance to enjoy the colourful costumes, mostly in red, of the Pa Then ethnic women.
|Pa Then ethnic women in their traditional red costume.|
Like many other ethnic groups living in Vietnam, Pa Then people grow flax to get threads for weaving the brocade and fabrics for making garments. Most of the adult Pa Then women have learned how to weave and sew clothes from their mothers. According to Pa Then custom, women have to learn weaving and sewing not only to make the clothes beautiful, but also to prepare for their wedding.
A costume of a Pa Then woman consists of a kerchief, a blouse, a belt, a skirt, and a brassiere. The kerchief is a red cloth, embroidered with designs and wrapped up into round layers. The two ends are decorated with clusters of colourful thread tassels, which cascade down onto the wearer’s ears.
The most attractive part is the red blouse, which has no collar but instead has two front flaps that are crossed when worn. The back flap is often longer than the front flaps. The costume is attractive due to the harmonious mixture of hand-embroidered pieces and grafted fabrics. On the red foundation ar
e the handy embroidered geometrical shapes, while the lower sleeves and two crossed front flaps’ fringes are grafted with black blocs. Young women often wear a white shirt under the red upper blouse. The white collar then will go on top of the red base, making it more beautiful.
With their skills, Pa Then women can weave and make unique skirts. Also in red, the skirt has folded lines in the upper hem and embroidered decorations along two sides. The front face has no decorations, just simple designs.
The belt is a long white or black cloth that is tied around the wearer’s waist, with its two tails falling down the front that looks like the skirt’s fringes.
Pa Then women have to spend nearly one month to make a complete set of their costume. Making the decorations and doing the embroidery work takes most of their time. However, their traditional costume is always of the same mode, and they wear it year round, in daily activities or during festivals. Because of this unique style, visitors to the upland provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang will easily recognize Pa Then women when they see their costumes.
At spring festivals, Pa Then women look charming in their red costumes, adorned with sparkling silver necklaces, ear-rings and bracelets.