Not only for legends and remains, Tan Chau silk village in An Giang is also famous for the brilliant past of a special craft village.
Tan Chau silk has its fame because of the softness, toughness, long-wearing and high absorbability of natural silk material. All clothes made from Tan Chau silk bring to people comfort, coolness in summer, warmness in winter. Tan Chau silk is deserved to be called “Queen” of silk.
Tan Chau silk is deserved to be called “Queen” of silk.
Actually, materials for making Tan Chau silk are all produced by local people themselves. They grow shrubbery feeding silkworm to generate silk, plant mac nua (D. mollis) tree to take its fruit making dye. To make a unit of Tan Chau silk, the makers must spend many time and labor in many different parts of process. Firstly in silk choosing part, the maker must select the good type of silk to squeeze, seize on the loom then put on the weaving pattern. After finishing weaving, weaver starts the part of making dye. The big and young mac nua fruits are selected (the ripe ones are not suitable because of not having resin), kneaded well in mortar or in crushing machine and then dissolved in water, creating a nice yellow liquid which will turn into black when meeting the air and temperature. This liquid is filtered to leave the residue and used for dying.
Mac nua (D. mollis) fruit to make the dye
The part of dying silk is considered the most important and most elaborate one in the whole process which includes a hundred times of soaking silk in dye to ensure that each silk thread absorbs equally After each soaking time, people have to use their hands carefully squeezing silk then hang it out. When drying, they must choose the suitable sunny days in order to dry silk 4 units of sunlight per day. If being hang out in rain or light sunshine, the quality of silk will decrease. After about 40-45 days of dying and drying, the product is taken in new process becoming beautiful clothes which make people to contemplate and to praise because of their brilliant beauty.
Because of the long time and much labor for making Tan Chau silk, its price is very high. In about 60s -70s of 20th century, this kind of product was not suitable for daily needs of people then slowly came to disappearance. The internal market refused it due to its expensiveness while color was the reason for the refusal of external market.
Makers have found other dying technique to generate different colors
However, for recent years, due to the common direction of development and fashion trend leading to high quality products which express cultural features, the brand of Tan Chau silk begins to be restored and returned into deserved position. Besides the traditional black color of natural dye from mac nua fruit, Tan Chau silk makers have found other dying technique to generate different colors, meeting the customer’s requirements which are more various day by day. This is a valuable chance for a famous craft village, which has been down for a long time, to restore its thriving past.
Translated by Vu Thuy Duong