Visitors to the northern provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang will enjoy the colourful costumes of women from the Pa Then ethnic minoirity.
Like many other ethnic groups in Vietnam, Pa Then people grow flax to weave the brocades and fabrics for making their traditional garments. Most of the adult Pa Then women learned how to weave and sew from their mothers. According to Pa Then custom, women have to learn these skills not only to make beautiful clothes, but also to prepare for their weddings.
A typical Pa Then woman's costume consists of a hat, a blouse, a belt, a skirt, and a brassiere. The broad flat hat is made of red cloth embroidered with various patterns and wrapped around the head in layers. The two sides are decorated with colourful tassels that cascade down to the wearer’s waist.
The most attractive part of the costume is the traditional red collarless blouse with that crosses over in the front and often longer in the back than the front. The costume is an attractive combination of hand-embroidery and appliqued fabric blocks. Geometrical patterns are embroidered on the red background while the under sleeves and appliques on the front of the blouse are black. Young women often wear a white shirt under the red blouse with the white collar on top of the red, giving it a rather striking appearance.
The skilled Pa Then women weave and create unique skirts. These skirts are also red and are pleated onto the waistband with embroidered decorations on the two side panels. The centre panel of the skirt is only decorated with simple designs.
The belt is a long white or black piece of cloth tied around the waist, with the two tails ends dangling down the front.It takes Pa Then women nearly one month to make a complete traditional costume. Making the decorative elements and and doing the embroidery takes the most time. However, their traditional costume is always in the same model, and they wear it year round during their daily activities and at festivals. Visitors to the upland provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang will easily recognize Pa Then women because of their impressive and unique costumes.
Pa Then women look particularly charming at spring festivals in their traditional red costumes adorned with sparkling silver necklaces, ear-rings and bracelets.