Embroidering on Bodhi Leaves

Embroidering on Bodhi Leaves


Because of her love for her family’s traditional craft of embroidery, Quan Thi Cuc from Linh Dam, Hoang Mai, Hanoi has further taken steps with embroidering on Bodhi leaves, preserving the value of a Vietnamese tradition.

It takes about ten days to complete a complicate piece.

Born to a family in an embroidery craft village in Phuc Thanh commune, Vu Thu district, Thai Binh province, Cuc was taught her first embroidery stitches by her mother. She could embroider a complete piece when she was 10 years old. In recent years, due to the development of machine embroidery technology, many people have had to remove their embroidery frame because they could not compete with the new technology. Because she wanted to preserve the art of traditional hand embroidery, Cuc created embroidery works with 3D flower patterns and opened online embroidery classes.

She initially began her craft from a question how to embroider on leaves by a student and in 2019 started embroidering on Bodhi leaves. After learning about the meaning of the Bodhi leaf, she began to focus on developing this new embroidery technique.

Using common thread for embroidering on Bodhi leaves.

Cuc said that the phases needed to embroider on a Bodhi leaf are similar to other materials used in embroidery. The steps include finding ideas, sketching the ideas on paper, editing the sketches, drawing patterns and then printing on the leaf. Embroiderers can adjust their work on fabric following their intentions, but they must be flexible. Embroidering on a leaf requires being gentle and meticulous. A Bodhi leaf is very thin and not large so just a little carelessness will ruin the whole work.

Embroidering on Bodhi leaves has significant spiritual meaning which needs  skillful techniques. Thus, Cuc must study to enhance the value and aesthetics for each work.

The major topic of her pieces focuses on calligraphy, enclosing the patterns with flowers, leaves and feng shui elements. It takes about one day to finish a simple piece and from two to four weeks to complete a complicated one. For her, the most sophisticated piece is an embroidery of the Buddha because it is very difficult to fully depict the Buddha's spirit with his open eyes.

The price of a product ranges from 400,000 dong to several million dong. Her embroidery products are mainly used as souvenirs and she also sells to Japan and the US.

Cuc said that she still opens online embroidery classes to give more people the opportunity to earn money by doing embroidery. However, her main desire is to preserve and develop the traditional embroidery craft, spreading the hand embroidery technique to thousands of women who love embroidery. 

Using common thread for embroidering on Bodhi leaves.

Story: Ngan Ha/VNP Photos: Cong Dat Translated by Nguyen Tuoi