Vietnam Blues

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Opposite the Temple of Literature in Hanoi you’ll find the Indigo Store. In a half-day tye dye workshop with the charming Hjo I managed to make this fine tye dye dots indigo piece. The aim of the Indigo store is to preserve and restore the traditional culture of the Black Tay ethnic minority in Sapa. Forget fashion. Go local.

One night on a train from bustling Hanoi and a few hours of hiking brings me to the stilt wooden houses of the Black H’mong women, still living and working in the traditional way. Overlooking the highest mountain in Vietnam, surrounded by rice terraces, they not only grow their own food and herbal medicines, but also hemp, cotton and Indigofera plants (to dye the indigo color). After the harvest they become weavers and dyers.

Respecting the earth and following the rhythm of the seasons everything is done by hand under the guidance of their shamanic elder. An indigo dye bath can be preserved, improve and kept alive for months and longer, when it is treated with love and respect and fed with a fresh mixture of different herbs from chili, lemon leaves, to ginger roots and rice wine.

Out of fashion is in fashion.

January 2016, Vietnam