HCMC – A virtual exhibition is being held from now until March 10, 2022 to honor the traditional brocade weaving of the Thai ethnic people, with a variety of display forms such as photos, videos and interviews.
The “Hyphen” exhibition marks the inaugural success of the “Women’s empowerment for ethnic women in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, through cultural sustainability” joint project between the Vietnam Women’s Museum, RMIT University and the Thuan Hoa Social Protection Center.
The exhibition aims to raise the concerns of Thai women in adapting to modern life while preserving their traditional culture, spread awareness of the traditional culture of the younger generation to the public, and convey to the stakeholders the mutual working process in connecting and creating new products using the traditional brocade weaving techniques of the Thai people in Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh Province.
Initiated in 2020, the project includes various activities from all the partners involved. The Vietnam Women’s Museum pioneered the coordination and recommendation of practical solutions for the proposed design ideas.
Fifty RMIT Bachelor of Fashion first-year students joined the design process, which resulted in 21 bag designs, 18 clothing designs and 12 modern patterns using Thai cultural elements, while the Thuan Hoa Social Protection Center participated in the production process to create products inspired by the Thai cultural identity but with a contemporary twist.
Nguyen Hai Van, director of the Vietnam Women’s Museum, shared the museum’s mission in spreading the cultural and historical values of ethnic minority women to the community.
“As a communication unit under the Vietnam Women’s Union, we are always aware of our mission in communicating to preserve and promote the cultural and historical heritage of the community, especially ethnic minority women groups,” she said.
“With the worthwhile and sustainable initial results of the project, we sincerely hope that the project model will be replicated to many other ethnic women’s groups and create new cultural values in responding to the development of today’s society.”
“RMIT University is committed to supporting the Vietnamese community through our expertise and resources to enable the preservation of the craft and heritage skills in Vietnam and to address challenges that have been heightened during the recent pandemic – putting many of the smaller community producers at risk,” shared Julia Gaimster, RMIT Dean of School of Communication and Design Professor.
According to artisan Vi Thi Thuan, owner of the Thuan Hoa Social Protection Center, the organizers faced a number of challenges during the project implementation.
“We encountered difficulties in designing products that suit the tastes of customers, especially young people. It is our pleasure to receive the project’s support to improve the capacity in production and product development and create more sustainable jobs for our women while preserving our cultural identity,” she said.
“I hope the project will be further expanded and get more public attention,” she added.
RMIT fashion student Do Le Ha My expressed her desire to share the meaning of the project with young people.
“Through the project, I can see the diversity and richness of the traditional values and cultures of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam,” My said, adding, “I also see the need to preserve and promote this cultural heritage for future generations.”
The Vietnam Women’s Museum, RMIT University and other stakeholders will continue to accompany the Thai ethnic group in Hoa Binh to implement the next phase of commercializing the products developed from the project.
The online exhibition can be accessed here.