Located at Thuong Tin district, Ha Tay province, which is about twenty kilometers south from Hanoi, Quat Dong embroidery craft village is considered as the cradle of embroidery in Vietnam. Its reputation has remained strong throughout several generations since the 17th century. The hand-made products in the village have been exported to many countries around the world, including the Europe, Hong Kong (China), Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States.
As in the legend, the ancestor of Quat Dong village – Le Cong Hanh traveled to China under the King Le Chan Tong’s envoy and learnt a new embroidery technique. Upon returning to Vietnam, he taught this new technique to his poor villagers of Quat Dong with all his heart, and it remains a strong tradition to this day. Ever since then, he has been regarded as the master and patriarch of Vietnamese embroidery. The anniversary of his death is revered throughout Vietnam on June 12th of every year.
For many Quat Dong villagers, embroidery is considered as a long-standing tradition. All villagers, regardless of age and gender, do the intricate needle-work. Visitors will forever remember the image of a young girl sitting next to her great-grandmother, being taught lessons handed down for generations in exactly the same manner. The art of embroidery is taught within the family, and a potential daughter-in-law originated from a neighboring village will soon learn the same skills taught only in this quiet village. To the onlooker, embroiders’ work seem to be simple or relax because they sit quietly in one place to do their work. However this work requires an extremely skillful and steady hand, an eye for the most intricate details, a demanding concentration, and a thorough commitment to make only the highest quality.
Embroiders often spend a dozen of hours with embroidery work every day with demanding concentration to create a lively artwork through light and dark patches, bold and loose strokes, and sometimes even need to split the thread into 2 or 3 thinner threads to make a perfect embroidery. The first step is to capture the image which is going to be conveyed. Next is to stretch and test the fabric, inspect the weave for imperfections or discoloration. This is followed by making a detailed sketch on the fabric and selecting the perfect thread colors to convey the desired contrasts and shadows. Once the needle work begins, the artisans will take most of their time to gently form the curving edge lines while present the most intricate and tiny details such as the veins of a leaf, the early morning shades and shadows within the cusp of a flower, or the fire in the eyes of a rising phoenix. In order to do so successfully, embroiderers must flawlessly combine and mingle the chosen threads with a steady hand for hours on end. They must focus on the harmony of nature to capture a frozen moment of life in the needle which they have been so well acquainted in their childhood, utilize the same skills taught five centuries earlier by ancestor Le Cong Hanh to his descendants nowadays.
Today, these skills continue to attract the attention of many foreign markets to this quiet village of Vietnam to discover and purchase embroidery products.