Hanoi artisan weaves silk from lotus stems

(VOVWORLD) - Thin threads from lotus stems are turned into unique silk products under the skillful hands of emeritus artisan Phan Thi Thuan. Ms. Thuan of My Duc district, Hanoi, is the only person using this unique silk technique. 
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Artisan Phan Thi Thuan from Phung Xa village, My Duc district, Hanoi successfully weaves silk from lotus stems after a year of research. (Photo: toquoc.vn)

Artisan Phan Thi Thuan was born into a family with a long tradition of silk weaving in Phung Xa commune, My Duc district. In 2017, she began weaving threads from lotus stems into silk. After more than 1 year of research, Thuan succeeded in making a lotus silk scarf with a distinctive floral scent. 

Thuan said it requires a meticulous effort to weave lotus silk. Lotus stems are picked from a pond, cleaned and the cellulose threads are extracted. The artisan must be very careful to keep the threads from breaking. The lotus fiber is then spun and woven on a loom.

At first, Ms. Thuan experienced great difficulty because lotus fiber is delicate and easily breaks on the loom. After many days of trial and error, Thuan managed to create a form of lotus silk with durability and a lotus scent.

“When weaving lotus silk, I need to consider how to create a kind of silk durable and workable on the looms”, she said.

To weave a scarf of 1.7 meters long and 0.25 meters wide requires 4,800 lotus stems and takes a month to complete. Due to the difficulty, lotus silk products are expensive and only made for special orders.

Thuan’s My Duc Mulberry Silk company specializes in silkworm and lotus silk products. It has 20 employees, including Ms. Hoang Thi Ha.

“Ms. Thuan instructs us carefully and specifically. She worked hard to set up this facility and create stable jobs for us,” said Ha.

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Thuan is eager to share her new technique with others so that it can be developed and preserved.

“I hope more and more people will start making lotus silk. It will also help the farmers who grow lotus. I want to teach this technique to the younger generation,” she said.

In her 500-square-meter workshop, the 66-year-old artisan is still busy on the silk looms in an effort to improve the quality of her products. Mr. Vu Van Chuy, Chairman of Phung Xa commune’s People’s Committee, said: “Ms. Thuan is very creative. She is enthusiastic about transferring her craft to the younger generation and creating new jobs for locals”.

In the near future, Thuan hopes to make Ao Dai, Vietnam’s traditional long dress, from lotus silk and promote them to the world.