Mong ethnic woman helps preserve traditional costumes

(VOVWORLD) - Walking through the Mong villages in the northwestern mountainous region, you may see women and girls sewing and embroidering brocade items and traditional costumes. Some local women, including Mua Thi Tong in Son La province, even run tailor shops to earn an income and help preserve their culture. 

Mong ethnic woman helps preserve traditional costumes  - ảnh 1Mua Thi Tong makes Mong women’s costumes. (Photo: VOV)

In 2019, Mua Thi Tong opened a tailor shop making Mong women’s costumes. At first, the shop only catered to the needs of her family and locals.

Tong said in the past, Mong women’s costumes were made from natural materials such as linen dyed with indigo blue and polished with beeswax. The sewing technique was simple and the patterns were limited. It takes around 4 or 5 months to make a simple Mong costume the traditional way. A more complicated item can take 1 year to make, and is sold at 45 to 85 USD. 

Trying to make Mong costumes in a more efficient way to help save time and effort, Tong invested in machines that could create more diversified patterns in a shorter time.

“I learn from my own experience combined with traditional methods to create various patterns and styles. I also search the internet to diversify the patterns to meet different customers’ demand,” said Tong.

Tong said the costumes of Mong women have lots of details and takes time to make. For example, to make a shirt, the first step is to cut the body, the arms, then embroider the edges, the sleeves, stitch with beads and coins, finally combining all the parts together.

Mong ethnic woman helps preserve traditional costumes  - ảnh 2Mong women’s costumes made by Mua Thi Tong. (Photo: VOV)

Now, by using machines, Tong can make more products in a shorter time. She manages to sell 25 costumes per month, earning an income of nearly 900 USD. She also receives orders from other villages.

“My business is also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to social distancing, many events were cancelled, so I received fewer orders. But, my shop still operates,” said Tong.

Tong is willing to share her experience and help other local women with techniques to make traditional Mong costumes, which can bring them extra income.

“Tong is an active and creative person. She can create many beautiful Mong costumes with unique patterns. I learn from her lots of sewing techniques to make Mong costumes. I earn about 450 USD per month from the tailor shop,” said Giang Thi Co in Mai Son district, who has managed to open a tailor shop with Tong’s help.