Traditional costume farandole in Muong Hum

10 August 2013

A chilly morning in February. After an hour of winding road in steep mountains, I have finally managed to arrive in Muong Hum village located at 110km away from the town of Sapa.

It is the market day in the village today. Here, not a “stranger” for miles around and yet I am rather well received in a respectful indifference. I have felt far, very far from the Vietnam that everyone believes to know, but I do not feel alone. In this market, all ethnic groups from the area meet every Sunday to do their grocery shopping and everyday’s usual purchases. I have been told that it is the place where young people come to meet and, who knows, to build future relationships and marriages.

Women purchase there their sewing material: colourful yarns, woven ribbons with patterns of their tribe, pleated fabrics… There is everything they need to adorn their costumes and headdresses indicating the ethnic group they belong to : White Hmong, Blue Hmong, Flower Hmong, Red Dao, Giay, Ha Nhi, Black Hmong… Sign of a change in their lifestyle, they have less time to make their own fabrics and sometimes they buy ready-made clothes. Most products are now imported from China, whose border is so close.

All these little crowds are moving around harmoniously. It is such a liveful and colourful sight. I am trying to capture the various details of each group’s costumes : bold and contrasting coloured combinations, ranging from bright red, apple green to indigo, expressive floral prints, embroidered appliqué ribbons and other precious silver jewels to embellish the fabrics…

Moments of quiet observation: to just watch this farandole of women dressed in costumes in all colours, as graceful flowers of different species and simply try to understand what lies behind these rich and vivid scenes of local life of ethnic groups from North Vietnam.

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