Ta Oi ethnic woman promotes traditional ‘zeng’ weaving products to the world

Zeng’ weaving is a typical traditional craft of the Ta Oi ethnic people in A Luoi district, Thua Thien Hue province. With a hope to preserve and promote her ancestors’ craft, Ta Oi ethnic artisan Mai Thi Hop has worked to bring traditional ‘zeng’ weaving products to the world.
Artist Mai Thi Hop demonstrates ‘zeng’ weaving skills.

Artisan Mai Thi Hop was born in A Dot (now Lam Dot commune), a remote and disadvantaged commune of A Luoi district. She was taught weaving ‘zeng’ at a very young age, and she completed her first ‘zeng’ product by herself at the age of 15.

She sold her products to Co Tu and Pa Co ethnic people living in the area. She found that the most difficult challenge facing ‘zeng’ weavers was how to find the market for their products.

Given this, Hop established a weaving group for local women in A Dot commune in 2004. The group was then upgraded to the Zeng-Brocade Weaving Cooperative (now Aza Kooh Green Brocade Cooperative).

Not only just creating jobs and improving skills for women, artisan Mai Thi Hop has also created many new designs and patterns for ‘zeng’ products.

As the Director of Aza Kooh Green Brocade Cooperative, artisan Mai Thi Hop has actively participated in fairs, exhibitions, and traditional craft festivals both inside and outside the province in order to promote the cooperative’s products to wider customers.

In particular, in 2015, Hop was selected to represent Ta Oi ethnic women to participate in craft demonstrations at the Fukuoka International Congress Center in Japan, during which she introduced the weaving craft of Ta Oi people to international friends.

A Luoi ‘zeng’ weaving products are widely known and loved by many domestic and international tourists (Photo: baothuathienhue.vn)

Since then, she has joined many trips to promote the craft to people in Thailand and European countries.

While witnessing Hop’s demonstrations, Japanese people showed their interest in ‘zeng’ products because they are environmentally-friendly. Meanwhile, French customers like brocade products with red as the background colour and decorated with purple myrtle flower-shaped patterns.

To date, A Luoi ‘zeng’ weaving products are widely known and loved by many domestic and international tourists.

Recently, Aza Kooh Green Brocade Cooperative received a contract to produce 50 sheets of ‘zeng’ measuring 0.7x1.5m each for export to the Canadian market.

A Luoi district is home to nearly a dozen zeng-weaving facilities, which have helped to preserve the traditional craft of the Ta Oi people, which was recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2017.

According to Hop, many things need to be done to keep the vitality of ‘zeng’ weaving craft in today’s life.

She stressed the need to teach this weaving technique to the younger generations while raising their awareness and responsibilities in safeguarding and upholding their ancestor’s heritage.