The Beauty of Pa Then Brocade

The Beauty of Pa Then Brocade

The Pa Then is one of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam and lives mostly in Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces. From generation to generation, the Pa Then has formed and preserved a diverse and rich culture, in which brocade weaving stands out as a cultural feature that reflects their spiritual life. It is also the pride of the Pa Then.

Pa Then women weaving using a hand loom, create beautiful products. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

According to Ms. Ly Thi Toan, a Pa Then who lives in Hong Quang commune, Lam Binh district, Tuyen Quang province, as the old tale goes, there was an orphaned Pa Then girl who went to the spring fair. When she saw that other ethnic groups had their own costumes, the girl was sad because the Pa Then didn’t have one.


Looking up at the sky, the girl saw birds flying with their colorful feathers of blue, red and purple and at that moment she saw a costume for her own people. She immediately made the costume herself. Because the girl was an orphan, she always dreamed of a family and a home with her sweetheart and a dog. The forest where she lived had a lot of white canarium trees, so she included the shape of canarium nuts in the costume to make it livelier.

Therefore, Pa Then traditional costumes are decorated with patterns such as a bridge which represents love, a house which represents happiness and sacrifice, a dog which is a symbol of mutual protection, and canarium nuts which represent the hope for a positive and beautiful life.

These sophisticated costumes are completely handmade, from weaving, embroidery, to stitching. In the past, the material for weaving was crafted from cotton and jute trees. After dyeing, the threads were woven into pieces of brocaded fabric. For the women’s outfit, red is the main color. For the Pa Then, the color red is likened to the color of a phoenix.

The color palette on Pa Then costumes, which is so vibrant the wearers are compared to butterflies and flowers. A fine set of costumes requires months of loom work by Pa Then women.

Pa Then women are proud of their traditional costumes. With skillful and talented hands and diligence, Pa Then women create unique dresses, not only honoring the culture of their ethnic group, but also the beauty of Vietnamese women.
A visitor learns about Pa Then costumes. Photo: Thanh Giang/VNP

Story: Vy Thao/VNP - Photos: Tran Thanh Giang - Translated by Hong Hanh