People’s Artisan Vu Van Gioi. (Photo: Ngoc Anh/ VOV5)
Vu Van Gioi’s family has been involved in the embroidery craft for 5 generations. Gioi says embroidering royal robes requires many techniques. The stitches must be even and fine.
“For normal embroidery, the artisan can freely apply his or her creativity to the items, but royal robes requires specific techniques. The robes are made entirely of silk and embroidered with different kinds of threads. Different techniques are used for different designs and patterns. I had to research the restoration of royal robes and it took me 5 years to complete one,” said Gioi.
Gioi learned about the patterns of royal robes from books, from preserved relics in temples and pagodas, and from veteran embroidery artisans. He travelled to the former capital city of Hue to study royal embroidery.
In 2016, the traditional craft of embroidery in Dong Cuu was recognized as a national intangible heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Gioi was given the title “People’s Artisan”. Ms. Tran Thi Thuy Lan, deputy head of the Management Board of Hanoi's Old Quarter, said: “Dong Cuu village had a tradition of embroidering royal costumes for the feudal dynasties. Vu Van Gioi is the only person qualified to restore the royal costumes using traditional materials. 3 years ago, we worked with Gioi on a show to showcase royal costumes in the Old Quarter to help preserve the cultural heritage of Hanoi.”
| Vu Van Gioi and a royal dress (Source: qdnd.vn)
In his skillful hands, every embroidery pattern and design comes alive. Gioi said restoring the imperial robe of 19th century King Dong Khanh required the most painstaking effort. It took him and several other artisans 15 months to complete it. Vu Van Gioi has also restored royal costumes of the earlier dynasties, including Ly, Tran, Le.
“I have organized events across the country to showcase royal costumes restored by my village. One of my works won second prize at the national fine arts and handicraft contest held in 2007 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,” said Gioi.
Gioi’s embroidered royal costumes have appeared on display at the Hue Festival, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, and the Vietnam National Museum of History.