Consumers have been making “natural”, “green”, and “organic” choices when it comes to shopping for…
Khuê, Wild Tussah’s Admin Assistant & Translator, writes about her experience visiting My Nghiep Cham Village last month.
Originally this trip was going to be done with just my partner and I as a working holiday, but after Khuê did lots of research on weaves in Vietnam for Wild Tussah, her interest spiked. She asked if she could join too, which turned into a great learning experience for the both of us.
If you’re wondering, I didn’t ask her to write nice things about Wild Tussah, but was great in any case to hear her positive perspective about our mission and what we are doing!
Read on to get a Vietnamese perspective about our visit. For more details on our trip, check out our Wild Tussah Explores My Nghiep Cham Village post.
x Danica, Wild Tussah Founder & Designer
Going to My Nghiep Village with Danica was an unforgettable experience for me. I had never been to an ethnic minority village before. I was born in Ho Chi Minh City, the most modern, populous and largest city in Vietnam. When I was a kid, I always wanted to go to the countryside to see how different life was from where I grew up, but my family couldn’t afford those trips. So I made friends with books and went there with my vivid imagination. The motivation to learn about cultures has increased overtime and urged me to find a job that can fulfill my wish of exploring cultures. Then I found Wild Tussah. Working at Wild Tussah gives me a wonderful chance to study about culture of various ethnic groups in Vietnam, especially Cham weaving technique.
My Nghiep Village
The first day to My Nghiep Village, Danica and I went on a motorbike taxi on a very beautiful road along the railways between boundless rice fields and vineyards. It was harvesting season so we were able to see farmers drying rice grains all over the street. While walking to the Weaving House in My Nghiep Village, we went through a half cut rice filed. My nose was bursting with the smell of freshly cut grass and cool pleasant winds blew my hair. The cows silently looked at two visitors, us, leisurely enjoying our meals after a long day of travel. We saw huge pigs run freely on the street as well. I felt so good and comfortable with the priceless sight I was seeing because the atmosphere was completely different from the crowded city where I live. Everything was so beautiful!
Cham people are very nice and friendly. The first person we met was Ms. Diem from the weaving house. She was very helpful and informative to show us her excellent weaving skills. She said that Cham use different types of looms to weave different cloth sizes. They used to collect stones and corals from the beach to make loom’s weights. Now, they use perfectly sized round shapes of concrete for the loom. They take careful and detailed observation whilst creating exquisite patterns; reflecting the real world, such as the sun, dog feet on the sand and Shiva – the highest deity in their religion. I appreciated the Shiva pattern more once I learned that it takes a lot of time to make and two weavers to weave only one meter of brocade. That made the weave more valuable to me.
Our Cham Tour Guide
Another Cham I met was Jaka, our English speaking Cham tour guide. He shared a lot of stories of Cham daily life, history and took us around the village visiting local people. We went to several traditional Cham houses and then rode 10 kilometers to Phan Rang city to visit the Cham Temple, Po Klong Garai. It was fantastic to see with my naked eyes the temple that was built nearly a thousand years ago! Ancient Cham people knew how to build such a great building using natural ingredients and unique glue to paste clay bricks together. They also invented the technique to carve letters on stone that have lasted all the way up to present day, without any sign of weathering.
We ended up our visit with an intimate lunch in Jaka’s house, which was built by him and local people using traditional method.
Phan Rang City
Besides those wonderful experience in Cham village, we also had a great time in Phan Rang city. We rented a motorbike and went to sand dunes, visited Ninh Chu beach, rode around the city and tried local food such as Banh Can, a local Vietnamese pancake dish.
Goodbye Cham Village
I read stories about Cham culture, but this was the first time I had seen it in person. This was also the first time I traveled to a place that I didn’t know anybody local. I learned a lot form this trip. By exploring the village, talking to local people, I know that every piece of weave shows the quintessence of Cham people. I feel happy we are working to preserve this weaving tradition.