Van Lam village, “the kingdom of embroidery with lace”
Coming to “the kingdom of embroidery with lace” in Van Lam village, Ninh Hai commune, in the Hoa Luu district of Ninh Binh province, you will have a chance to see excellent works of embroidery combined with lace that is breathtaking.
Van Lam is considered to be one of the cradles of traditional embroidery which is very famous in Vietnam. According to village annals, embroidery has existed there for over seven centuries. The patriarch, Do Cong Hau, was a military general under Tran dynasty, and legend has it that he learned embroidery while competing in China. While there he saw a marvelous wall hanging, and marveled at the details. He inquired about it and the artisans agreed to teach him their skills. When he returned, he taught this new art form to the villagers of Van Lam. Centuries later, with the influence of French colonialists, the villagers of Van Lam began creating a new craft combining European lace and Vietnamese embroidery. This became immediately popular in Vietnam and abroad.
Currently, of the eight hundred and thirty households in Van Lam, more than seven hundred are skilled in this village industry of making embroidery with lace. The villagers use a multitude of embroidery frames, some as large as a sedge mat, and some as small as a hand. The embroiderer can create many artworks from a single, slender thread, colorful fabrics and skilled hands. Lace designs are very sophisticated, agile, soft, and as lively as a painting. To observe a women attentively sitting by the embroidery frame, her skillful hands carefully threading each line while she passionately beams watching the scene unfold to her liking before her eyes, we can understand this is much more than a village craft, but a way of life.
From traditional embroidery with lace products, these production units have shifted to producing high quality white lace to create new designs to meet the changing demands of international markets. Many famous enterprises have been formed in Van Lam village such as Dong Thanh Embroidery, Van Quan, Duc Vinh, and My Huong. They have a wide range of products that are attractive to both domestic and international markets, such as bed covers, pillow covers, napkin sets, door curtains, Japanese kimonos, Korean hanboks, and simple handkerchiefs, all with smooth embroidery pieces embellished with charming lace decor. The prestige of Van Lam embroidery brought an increasing number of customers from Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, England, and America.
The skillful combination of embroidery and lace from Van Lam continues to be handed down from generation to generation. It can be accurately stated that the soul of the artisans can be seen through their needle-work, creating fascinating products imbued with the inspiration of the people and their surroundings.