Fashionable Adventures With Indigo Dye Technology Of Hmong People In Sapa, Vietnam

Nga Do
Sa Pa in the North West province of Lao Cai is one of the most un-missable destinations on the Vietnamese map. Boasting a spectacular picture perfect mountainous terrain and home to some of Vietnam ethnic minorities including the Hmong ethnic group.

Check out best way to get to Sapa from Hanoi

The H’Mông are praised for their beautiful clothing that is handcrafted with sustainable techniques. The traditional handspun clothing that the H’Mông ethnic group wears for special occasions and, in some villages, daily life, is tinted an indigo blue that is so dark it becomes black. The method - dyeing, hanging, and drying - must be repeated twice a day for one month to achieve this color. Depending on the subgroup of the H’Mông - Black H’Mông, Flower H’Mông, Striped H’Mông, Red H’Mông etc. The cloth used on the women’s garments is then embroidered with bright stitching while the men’s clothing is left simple and somber

Fashionable Adventures With Indigo Dye Technology Of Hmong People In Sapa, Vietnam
Photo by Rehahn Photographer

Natural Dyeing Techniques of Hmong Ethnic Minority in Sapa

The H’Mông women push swathes of fabric into tubs of bubbling blue dye, swirling them to make sure every woven edge.

After a minimum of 30 minutes, with hands tinted deep indigo, turquoise and violet, they fish the wet cloth out of the bath, wring out the pieces and hang them to drip-dry in the open air. The longer the fabric is mixed in with the dye, the darker it will become. Eventually, the cloth will oxidize into a distinctive blue - the recognizable cobalt of blue jeans.

As the fabric dries on lines hanging outside their thatched-roof homes, the women carry on with their many daily tasks from childcare, to farming to gathering firewood.

"Their hands are often deeply lined from decades of work, permanently stained as bright as bluebirds from the repetition of dyeing the indigo cloth over the years."

Fashionable Adventures With Indigo Dye Technology Of Hmong People In Sapa, Vietnam 1
Photo by Rehahn Photographer
For some tribes, the deeper the indigo the more prized the cloth becomes. Some say that they can tell when a bolt of cloth is finished just by the depth of color present on a woman’s hands.

Indigo Leaves and Hemp Harvesting

High up in the hills above Sapa, the tribes still make the traditional dye out of the leaves of the indigo plant that are indigenous to Vietnam.

The plants with their wide green leaves and barely purple flowers are scattered on the hillsides near the H’Mông homes. They typically yield a crop twice a year.

"The dye is contained in the leaves of the indigo plant, which, once harvested, are fermented with a combination of various additives such as rice wine, urine or lye."

Fashionable Adventures With Indigo Dye Technology Of Hmong People In Sapa, Vietnam 2
Photo by Rehahn Photographer
When the fermentation process is complete (timing that the H’Mông women seem to know instinctively), the leaves are extracted and they are allowed to oxidize in the open air. Dried leaves can be ground into powder or paste and stored until it is time to use the mixture on the fabric.

The fabric itself is traditionally spun from hemp plants; however, more than ever the long process of hemp production and weaving is forgone in Vietnam for pre-purchased cloth.

Indigo has been a sought after color for more than 6,000 years and continues to be used in its natural form in some locations across Asia and South and Central America. Other ethnic groups in Vietnam such as the Dao, the Nung, and the La Chi also maintain strong indigo dyeing traditions and some even sell their fabrics at the markets for income for their communities.

You are curious about the blue hand of the Hmong woman in Sapa would like to have unforgetable travel experiences exploring Sapa in the time to come. Satisfy your curiosity with the most typical Sapa tours right now. A fashion adventure learn about techniques to create fascinating colors from the colorful suits of Hmong ethnic groups in Sapa, Vietnam.

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