One of the most unique Hue Craft exhibition during the Hue Festival 2019 ( from 26 April – 2 May) is the Zeng Weaving.
Zèng is a type of brocade of Ta Oi ethnic. Ta Oi people have reached a high skill level, and produce durable products with diverse and sophisticated patterns. In Ta Oi culture, Zèng is a measure of values in life.
Zèng – a measure of many values of Ta Oi people.
Ta Oi women do not weave zeng on huge and complex looms like Thai people or Muong people. The Ta Oi weave on the frame made from bamboo or wooden pieces and is quite simple and compact. Thanks to that, Ta Oi women can bring their looms to anywhere to weave whenever they have free time.
For Ta Oi people, weaving zèng is a simple craft as well as a measure to evaluate many values in the life of the Ta Oi people such as economic conditions and potentials.
What is process to produce a Zèng fabric?
September annually is the time when cotton flowers had been harvested on the field. It will be threaded before being dyed and the gum.
The colors the ancient Ta Oi people are mainly black, white, yellow, red, green and purple. Each color is made from different plants and leaves. For example, the bark and Ta-ram’s leaves are black, the a-Rac roots are yellow, the a-chat plants are red, etc.
In the process of creating the dye, Ta Oi people add some additives such as stone snail shells, tapioca or dried glutinous flour in order to make the durable fabric.
After having a dyed fabric, the Ta Oi woman start weaving on frame. While the dyeing process requires experience in dispensing, the weaving is necessary to apply meticulousness on the loom. To have a beautiful Zèng, it takes Ta Oi woman quite a long time to classify each fabric for different usage purpose.
For example, the sheet uses for making clothes, it is essential to choose thin, fine fabrics. Big and coarse fibers use to weave carpets or blankets.
Along with the fabric, beads not only use to create patterns but also contribute to the value of Zèng of Ta Oi people.
The more Zeng fabric has floral patterns, the more it is valuable. Formerly, Ta Oi people often use beads from the seeds of a tree growing a lot in the forest. This plant has seeds like pepper which is very hard and has core in the center when it dried.
Also, it is very convenient to string decorative chains on Zèng. Beads which are made from melted lead are used by the Ta Oi people from the early establishment.
In the culture of Ta Oi people, zèng plays a very important and indispensable role in belief and worship activities. Zèng often use in engagement or to show affection for future husband’s family.
Pattern on Zèng fabric of Ta Oi people.
It can be said that the biggest feature between Ta Oi brocade and other ethnic groups is in the patterns system.
The pattern on zèng is decorated mostly by beads, which is inserted in the weaving process. Also, it contains many stylized images and richly simulating close images in the productive life and activities of Ta Oi people.
The pattern divide into 3 basic models.
Firstly, plant pattern includes plants and flowers such as la doac patterns (plants used for drinking alcohol), patterns of “a rac” plants for dyeing fabrics or “a băng a bung” like the shape of a bud of a tree Giang, bamboo.
The second model is the animal pattern. It is similar to the plant pattern system. These patterns also reflect the visual feel of the Ta Oi woman with the surrounding environment including images of bats, fish bones, or pheasants.
The most common is the pattern motif on objects such as fence or house patterns.
The beading process requires the weaver to be very adaptive at arranging beads, so the number of patterns a woman can make is not much.
However, the zeng weaver can freely create patterns according to their observation and imagination.
When holding each Zèng piece in hand, it is easy to see the unique arrangement of beaded patterns. Moreover, Ta Oi women pass the intelligence and lots of accumulated experiences through generations.
The Ta Oi is an ethnic group of Vietnam and Laos. They concentrate in A lưới district of Thừa Thiên Huế Province and Hướng Hóa District of Quang Tri Province in Vietnam and in Muang Ta Oy of Saravane Province in southern Laos.
If you are curious about Ta Oi’s lifestyle, come and see Ta Oi people at the Hue Craft Festival 2019 from 26 April to 2 May 2019. Also, to learn of their unique craft tradition, book the Hue Craft Walking Tour now!