Hanoi (VNA) – Among black Thais, who live in the mountains of the Northwest, women’s headscarves are not just a trivial material. Piêu, that’s its name, is a spiritual object, an offering, a proof of love … According to tradition, all women must know how to make their Piêu themselves.
The Piêu charms with its colors and embroidery, it is the symbol of the talent and virtue of the Thai woman.
All black Thai women have their Piêu. This scarf is a centerpiece of their daily dress, a gift they offer to the chosen one of their heart and an offering used during worship ceremonies, as Hoàng Thi Mai, 71, a craftswoman from Son La, explains to us.
“The Piêu is an essential object for us. Before her marriage, the woman must embroider at least 30 of them to offer them to the parents and the family of her future husband ”, she indicates. “When one of the two spouses dies, the Piêu is cut in half, one of the halves being used to cover the face of the deceased. The other person will keep the remaining half for the rest of their life and when they die, this half will be used to cover their face. That way, the couple can meet in the other world. “
Any self-respecting black Thai mother will be keen to teach her daughter how to make her Piêu. First, choose a beautiful white fabric, preferably hand-woven. This fabric will then be dyed black and the embroidery threads, in different colors, with natural dyes. The decorations are only found at both ends of the scarf. The traditional technique consists of embroidering on the back the pattern that appears on the front. It is often diamonds, plants or flowers … Once the embroidery is completed, the scarf will be edged with red fabric along its entire length. On its two ends, will be hung tiny cones of fabric, also red, representing fern leaves. Typically, Thai women wear a headscarf with three “fern leaves” on each end, but when offering someone a Piêu then at least five leaves will be required, says Lù Thi Chum, a black Thai from Son La.
“To create these fern leaves, we roll a one-centimeter-wide strip of red fabric around a core made of threads to make a cone representing the leaf,” she says. “My mother taught me to embroider and in turn, I also want to pass on this know-how so that the Thai cultural identity is never lost.”
Modernization means that most young black Thai no longer know how to embroider. Teaching them these traditional techniques has therefore become a priority for the authorities and women’s associations in several towns in the northwest, said Quàng Thi Vin, president of the Son La Women’s Union.
“Every year, as part of the bauhinie flower festival, we organize a Piêu embroidery competition,” she says. “This is an opportunity for women to meet, learn from each other, carry on the tradition and pass it on to the next generations.”
If in their daily life, black Thai women prefer modern clothing from the West for their comfort, it is out of the question for them to give up their traditional dress, let alone their Piêu scarf. – VOV / VN