Updated: Mar 7
The story behind the product...
The Sapa Mountains are in the north of Vietnam and home to many different indigenous tribes, under which the Black Hmong, Zhao, Tai and the Tay Ethnic.
September 2019, our family walked together with the women of the Black Hmong tribe though the gorgeous mountains crossing the terraced rice fields and climbing the muddy steep hills of the magic bamboo forests.
We visited their traditional home and drank Vietnamese coffee, learned about their ancient indigo art forms and shared with them making batik designs on natural hemp with which they create clothing, pillow covers, table runners and bed covers. We did a workshop and made our own pillow covers with batik design to be dipped in the indigo paint afterwards.
We decided to offer the beautiful pieces that they create to make available via our Mercado On the Go site. Bed covers, pillow cases, table runners......
What makes this collection unique?
All the products we offer in our 'Sapa Tribes Collection' are made by hand by the tribe minorities of Vietnam. From homegrown hemp to traditional batik and handmade embroidery.
What is Batik? Batik is a textile technique using hot liquid wax to draw patterns on a fabrics surface before dyeing. In Hmong culture traditionally hemp fabric is used along with natural indigo leaves to make the fabric a dark navy blue color. When applied to the surface of the fabric the wax cools, and drys to act as a resistant against the indigo dye, keeping that part the fabric with the patterns on in the original color. When the dyeing process is complete the wax is removed with heat and the pattern is revealed.
The textile gets dipped in the Indigo bath over and over again....the number of times depends on the shade of blue you like to reveal. Mimi is dipping the pillow covers we created that morning....
When we were hiking in the hills where the Black Hmong tribes live... you could see next to various houses the textiles that were bathed in the indigo bath, drying. A beautiful site.
The Tradition.... Hmong clothes are made every year in time for the lunar new year in February. For this event a mother or young woman will design a combination of symbols in embroidery and batik, that they want to attract into their life in the year ahead. So every new year they create a new skirts and dresses.
Also important to know is that unlike many languages, Hmong didn’t have a written form until very recently, thus textiles became a form of visual expression. The inspiration for batik motifs is derived from the natural environment, such as snail shells, animal teeth, ferns and cucumber and pumpkin seeds.
The Hmong blankets we offer on Mercado On the Go are assembled from handmade skirts worn by the Hmong women, that were used and worn by them in previous years. The are very colorful and every blanket is unique.
Besides the blankets which we fell in love with - we also really liked the beautiful wall hangings/ curtains which wonderful patterns which you can also find in our product listings.