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05/12/2022 - 08:26

Ta Oi people knitting Amber wedding mat 

With the same value as Zèng cloth, the Amber sleeping mat of Ta Oi people (in A Luoi) also takes a lot of effort to produce. To make this product, sometimes the process of picking leaves, stripping, drying, dyeing, knitting… takes more than a month. Ta Oi girl, before coming to her husband's house, must have a few of these mats as an offering to show love and respect for the groom's family.

A'anh chac is a wild pineapple tree that grows in forests and marshy areas

A'anh chac is a wild pineapple tree that grows in forests and marshy areas

In order to get A'anh chac leaves - the main raw material for making mats, people go deep into the forest since morning.

The leaf of A'anh chac, which is called wild pineapple by the lowland people, has many thorns, can easily cause wounds and itchy skin if they are not picked carefully. There are two types of this leaf in the forest, including a type that grows on rocky soil and the rest grows in marshy areas.

“There are leaves longer than a full span of a human arms. The hardest part is picking them in marshy areas. Sometimes, I have to go home empty-handed as I can't find it,” said Mr. Vien Dang Minh, an artisan in A Roang.

Bringing the leaves home, woman will use yarn stripped from the trunk of Sugar palm or snell to weave a fishing net to strip A'anh chac into small threads. This stage requires ingenuity and mastery because with evenly stripped threads, the knitting mat will be beautiful.

The leaves are then dried in the sun or left in the kitchen to dry. To create color, people pick A'ruh leaves (the kind of leaves used to dye Zeng), then pound, mix with cooked snail shells to make green color; or mix with other ingredients to create pink and purple colors. After cooking, this mixture will be poured into a jar and soaked the leaves in for 1 month, then the mat thread could be perfectly colored.

According to Ms. A Viet Thi Nhi, most Ta Oi women know how to make this mat from a young age. They are passed down by grandmothers, mothers and sisters; as when they reach the age of marriage, they can knit the mats themselves and bring them to their husband's house. Nowadays, there are only a few people who are good at knitting mat because this work requires too much time and meticulousness. Since it is a must-have wedding present on the wedding day, it is ordered from artisans or elders. “Only when I cut down on housework, I start knitting mats. I have to knit for 1 week in a row to get an Amber mat. Every year, I only make at most 20-30 mats for customers,” said Ms. Nhi.

Amber mat size 1.2m x 1.2m priced at 800,000 VND – 1,200,000 VND/sheet depending on the size of yarns, the type of pattern. Some households are experimenting with A'anh chac leaves to make bags, hats, rings, bracelets, etc. to serve tourists.

If you want to see the Amber mat, you can go to a few artists' homes or sign up for an experience at Huong Danh homestay (A Roang).

Together with Thua Thien Hue Online, let’s see how to knit mats from A'anh chac leaves:

To pick a lot of A'anh chac leaves, people often go in group of relatives or with family

To pick a lot of A'anh chac leaves, people often go in group of relatives or with family

This type of leaf has three rows of spines that are easy to cause scratches and itches, so it must be harvested with skills

This type of leaf has three rows of spines that are easy to cause scratches and itches, so it must be harvested with skills

A'anh Chac is also known as a wild pineapple, or Pandanus tectorius, which can cure kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

A'anh Chac is also known as a wild pineapple, or Pandanus tectorius, which can cure kidney stones and urinary tract infections

Hands with more than 40 years of seniority stripping A'anh chac leaves to knit mats

Hands with more than 40 years of seniority stripping A'anh chac leaves to knit mats

A'ruh leaves are pounded till they are sticky like glue; then mixed with snail shells and are cooked to produce green color, used to color mat yarns

A'ruh leaves are pounded till they are sticky like glue; then mixed with snail shells and are cooked to produce green color, used to color mat yarns

The mixture after boiling will be used to soak the mat yarn for 1 month to color it

The mixture after boiling will be used to soak the mat yarn for 1 month to color it

Visitors learn the process of dyeing and drying leaves

Visitors learn the process of dyeing and drying leaves

Knitting the first knots of the wedding mat

Knitting the first knots of the wedding mat

Foreign tourists are also excited to experience

Foreign tourists are also excited to experience

"Creativity" from the mat yarns of the visitors

Amber mat size 1.2m x 1.2m is currently priced at 800,000 VND – 1,200,000 VND/sheet

Amber mat size 1.2m x 1.2m is currently priced at 800,000 VND – 1,200,000 VND/sheet

By Thua Thien Hue Online

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