Lanh My A silk remains an uncertain future

lanh my a silk remains an uncertain future
Vietnamese fashion designer Nguyen Cong Tri successfully introduced Lanh My A silk via his designs to international friends during Tokyo Fashion Week 16. (thethaovanhoa.vn)
Ups and downs

Lanh My A, a delicate cloth woven from the finest silk fibres, comes from Tan Chau Silk Village in the southern province of An Giang.

The area flourished during the 1950s and 1960s when mulberry growing, silkworm rearing and Lanh My A Sweaving was popular.

The village products were sold to neighbouring provinces and exported to Cambodia, Laos, France and other European countries, according to Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

However, as synthetic fabric gained popularity in the 1970s, most families in Tan Chau, even the skilled Tam Lang artisans, switched from pure silk to synthetics and other fabrics to secure their income.

Nguyen Van Long, or “Tam Lang”, was one of the most renowned artisans with expertise in Lanh My A Silk production. He spent 20 years trading mac nua (an ebony-coloured fruit used to dye the silk) and more than 40 years making the silk.

Lanh My A silk was abandoned until the 1990s when a French woman named Rose became interested in the unique fabric and persuaded Tam Lang to resume his original business.

In addition to setting standards that improved the quality of Lanh My A silk, Rose was able to export it to France, Hong Kong and other countries every year.

Making of Lanh My A

Nguyen Huu Tri, Tam Lang’s son and successor, says the process of producing the natural silk is extremely demanding, taking up to more than a month to complete.

lanh my a silk remains an uncertain future
Mặc nưa is a special fruit that helps Lanh My A silk get its distinctive black, glossy and beautiful colour. Photo courtesy of thethaovanhoa.vn

Lanh My A is made of natural silk fabric processed by a unique method in which it is woven and dyed with the mặc nưa fruit.

After being handpicked and ground, the fruit gives out a distinctive black and beautiful colour that is later mixed with water for dyeing.

As the silk is dyed, it is repeatedly dried and hung under the sun from morning to noon for about 45 days before it is rolled up and rammed to make the silk shiny and durable.

The silk takes its final form as the beautiful black Lanh My A after it undergoes a sizing and softening process.

Trí says that there are three factors that make Lanh My A silk special. It has to be made with 100 per cent natural silk, dyed with mac nua fruit, and woven with the satin technique (the most difficult weaving technique).

Today, Lãnh Mỹ A silk appears in an array of colours such as amber and ash in an effort to keep up with the growing demand in designs.

Despite being a precious silk that represents Vietnam, Lanh My A is currently at risk of being lost forever due to the decreasing quantity of mặc nưa fruit and skilled workers, Trí says.

Mac nua fruit is only available between lunar June and December when the resin is good for one or two days after being picked.

Now that many mac nua trees have been chopped down for food crops, artisans do not have enough resources to produce Lanh My A silk, Trí says.

Future use

The fabric has been recently showcased in many fashion shows, including "The Dreamers" collection featuring more than 100 designs made from Lanh My A silk, and created by young designers with a vision to carry the fabric into the future.

In addition to local shows, famous fashion designer Nguyen Cong Tri pushed the unique fabric into the international spotlight by showcasing his designs in the "No 9 Lua" collection during Tokyo Fashion Week 16.

Nguồn: www.vir.com.vn