Emeritus artisan devoted to preserving Dao culture

(VOVWORLD) - Emeritus artisan Trieu Thi Nhay of the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai is known for her dedication to preserving and promoting the culture of Vietnam’s Dao ethnic people. Nhay is passionate about singing and composing Dao songs and promoting embroidery products.

Trieu Thi Nhay, a member of the Red Dao ethnic group, grew up with the sweet melodies of Dao folk songs. When Nhay was 10 years old, she was taught by her grandmother and mother to sing a kind of Dao folk song called pao dung. Nhay fell in love with Dao folk songs because of their beautiful lyrics. 

Realizing that many cultural values of Dao ethnic people have fallen into oblivion, Nhay has helped establish an art troupe in her commune to attract those who want to preserve Dao traditional culture. Nhay has done a lot of research and choreographed unique dances for regional and national music and arts events. A performance of call and response singing by Nhay and a member of her art troupe won the gold medal at Yen Bai province’s Music and Arts Festival in 1994 and another gold medal at the National Music and Art Festival of Ethnic Groups.

Serving as Chairwoman of the Phuc Loi commune’s Women’s Union and as a former National Assembly deputy, Ms. Nhay became more aware of her responsibility to preserve Dao culture. In addition to her social work, Nhay teaches the members of the art troupe Dao folk songs and dances. She has also written more than 40 songs in praise of Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh, and the Party. Nhay said: “In the past, most Dao ethnic people lived in poverty, so few of them cared about preserving traditional culture. That prompted me to do more to preserve and promote Dao culture.”

Emeritus artisan devoted to preserving Dao culture - ảnh 1Artisan Trieu Thi Nhay (C) instructs local women to embroider (Photo: Tran Hieu/VOV)

Recognizing that many Dao women are skilled at embroidery, in 1996, with the support of Yen Bai province’s Women’s Union, Nhay opened a class to teach sewing and embroidering of traditional Dao costumes, drawing 45 participants.  Many local women have increased their income from this work.

“After attending the class, I can now make traditional Dao costumes and many other embroidery products, such as pillows, pillow cases, and bags. This not only generates income for me, but also helps preserve Dao culture,” said Ms. Trieu Thi Hong of Phuc Loi commune.

Emeritus artisan devoted to preserving Dao culture - ảnh 2Emeritus artisan Trieu Thi Nhay (third from left) at the ceremony to recognize the embroidery craft village of Hai Tuc. (Photo: Tran Hieu/ VOV) 

In 2019 the embroidery craft village of Hai Tuc was officially recognized thanks to Nhay’s important role in promoting traditional Dao costumes and embroidery products to the market.

“I’m very happy that Hai Tuc hamlet’s embroidery cooperative was recognized. We are trying to get our products recognized by the province’s One Commune-One Product (OCOP) program,” said Nhay. 

Luong Hong Ngoan, Vice Chairman of Phuc Loi commune’s People’s Committee, said, “Trieu Thi Nhay is a passionate artisan and has made a great contribution to preserving the culture of the Dao and other ethnic groups in the area. She is also active in music and art performance. The local authorities are considering making Dao embroidery products part of the OCOP program.”

Ms. Trieu Thi Nhay received the title “Emeritus Artsan” from the State President in 2018.