in Nam Giang, Quang Nam Province

About the people:

People of Ca Tu ethnic minority group live in Nam Giang district, Quang Nam province in Vietnam's Truong son Mountains. Self-sufficient in these harsh surroundings, they cultivate crops and raise fowls. To supplement their diets and to uphold their traditions, they also gather foods from the forest and occasionally hunt.

About the traditional handicraft:

Ca Tu ethnic minority group has traditional handicraft which are cloth weaving with bead and other items made from rattan and bamboo. Especially women are skilled in cloth weaving which decorate their clothes with designs made from counbaril seeds and flat lead beads. They weave cotton by hand and dye it with indigo, typically weaving shades of dark blue or black. 

Counbaril seeds and lead beads are affixed to skirts, headdresses, loincloths and back-trap-flaps, creating patterns inspired by nature. Typical designs includes zigzags, straight lines and lozenges, which are combined to create complicated patterns are so complex that only the most experienced female weaver are able to make them. Each motif has its own name, which explained by local people that present of leaves, fruits and animals. A design might symbolize an animal like lizards, crickets. Diagonal, double-cross designs represented spiders, while single cross represents the leaf of the "atut" tree, or a human being like a dancing man.

Ca Tu weaving looms comprised of 15-16 detachable parts. They stretch several threads lengthwise and use a bobbin to weave. Since beads and seeds are inserted one at a time, the process is very slow. The weaver must repeat a single row again and again. To determine where to insert a bead requires great skill, since it is only upon completion of the motif that the weaver has a clear view of her work. The time need to complete an outfit is astonishing. In this era of mass production, the clothes woven by Ca Tu women seem very special. Using natural materials, these women blend hard work, traditional and imagination into works or art that enrich our nation.

About the project of preserving and promoting traditional weaving:

Start from the beginning of the year 2002, FIDR (a Japanese non government organization based in Da Nang City) is cooperating with Craft Link in assisting group of CaTu women in Zara village, Nam Giang district, Quang Nam province. The project aims to help women in Zara village developing their traditional weaving with hope that it could bring a new income source to people in village to support their daily life. 

For more information about this project, please contact:
51 Van Mieu, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: (84-24) 37336101 - Fax: (84-24) 38437926
Email: - Website: