Van Phuc Silk Village
Van Phuc Silk Village is one of northern Vietnam’s most famous “traditional craft villages” but local silk producers are using so many imported materials and modern machinery that soon it might not be so traditional.
The name Van Phuc is synonymous with silk. Some will tell you that silk was first produced here around 700 years ago when a woman from China’s Hangzhou city, also well-known for silk products, arrived in the village. At the time the village was desperately poor, so she decided to teach the villagers how to weave silk so they would have a trade.
Another legend said that a princess during the reign of the semi-mythical Hung Kings introduced silk making to the area nearly 2,000 years ago. But yet another story goes that 1,200 years ago, a young woman called A La Thi Nuong from Cao Bang province, who married a man from Van Phuc, taught the village how to cultivate mulberries, raise silkworms and weave silk.
After she passed away, she became a tutelary village genie. In feudal times, silk products were made exclusively for kings, queens, mandarins and other members of the royal court. In colonial times Van Phuc silk was highly prized and sold in international fairs in Marseille and Paris, held in 1931 and 1938 respectively, and distributed across Europe afterwards.
Today nearly 700 households are engaged in silk weaving in Van Phuc with more than half of the village’s population involved. The village produces 2.5-2.7 million square metres of silk every year and is home to nearly 100 shops.
Traditionally Van Phuc produced silk from locally-made materials. The villagers liked to say they had their secret methods when it came to producing silk. But now you can buy silk from elsewhere in Van Phuc. Roughly half of the products in most shops are believe to be either imported or produced from imported materials.