Hau dong costumes shown on the catwalk

For the very first time, the hau dong costumes of Vietnam’s traditional practice of “Tho Mau Tam Phu” (Worship of Mother Goddesses) have been shown on the catwalk at Vietnam International Fashion and Beauty Week by designer Nguyen Duc Hien. The show left a strong impression in the public.
For the show, Nguyen Duc Hien brought 12 designs of hau dong costumes from his “Khan chau ao ngu” collection. Hau dong, also known as len dong, is one of the main rituals of the traditional practice of “Tho Mau Tam Phu” which was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The ritual can last many hours during which the practitioner, a medium, incarnates a series of different deities and spirits, changing a different set of costumes for each incarnation.

In the hau dong ritual, there appear 36 chanting-trancing acts called gia dong, each of which tells of a legendary deity. According to Hien, each gia dong has a different costume. However, the basic costume of the ritual included a red veil and dresses that came in five colors for different gods. There are also accessories such as belts, ivory tags and rings.

Nguyen Duc Hien performs “Co doi thuong ngan” at the fashion show. Photo: Thanh Giang 

The show attracts numerous audiences. Photo: Thanh Giang

Hien’s collection is remarkable in its colorful tone that represent “Tu phu” (the Four Palaces), where spirits reside in a Vietnamese indigenous religion. Yellow, white, green and blue respectively symbolize Dia Phu (Earth), Thuy Phu (Water), Nhac Phu (Forest) and Thien Phu (Heaven). Combined with luxurious traditional-styled adornments, his meticulous and sophisticated designs exude purity and solemnity.
To make the show even more impressive and arouse curiosity about hau dong costumes, Hien performed “Co doi thuong ngan”, a folk performance combining spiritual music with dance moves used in the practice of “Tho Mau Tam Phu”

Costumes in the collection "Khau chau ao ngu" by Nguyen Duc Hien:

Story: Ngan Ha - Photos: Tran Thanh Giang

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